Edward Said: truth, justice and nationalism

Selby, Jan (2006) Edward Said: truth, justice and nationalism. Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, 8 (1). pp. 40-55. ISSN 1369-801X

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Abstract

Within post-colonial debates, Edward Said has tended to be viewed by critics and admirers alike through a predominantly postmodern lens: as an (albeit inconsistent) Foucauldian genealogist of the relations between western truths and oriental subjugation, and as an opponent of cultural homogeneity and advocate of hybridity and exile. This paper argues, by contrast, that Said was above all a critical modernist committed to truth and justice; that despite his opposition to pure identities he was not anti-nationalist; and that he was remarkably consistent, both philosophically and politically, across a lengthy period of at least twenty-five years. In his desire to ‘speak truth to power’ and in his ethical universalism, Said had much deeper affinities, the paper argues, with Noam Chomsky than with Michel Foucault. It was this critical modernism, I argue, that underlay Said's belief that nationalist movements could be of progressive and liberatory potential, and that also underlay his critiques of mainstream propaganda on the question of Palestine, as well as his ambivalent positions on the utility of the two-state solution.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > International Relations
Depositing User: Jan Selby
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 15:26
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2012 08:16
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/12468
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