Evading orientalism? Re-evaluating Edward Said’s postcolonial theoretical positions and discourses

Alobudi, Majed (2020) Evading orientalism? Re-evaluating Edward Said’s postcolonial theoretical positions and discourses. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis proposes to examine the efficacy of Edward Said’s counter theories, positions and narratives. As one of the most prominent and instrumental figures in postcolonial studies and criticism, he has argued extensively for postcolonial opposition and resistance in the form of alternative positions and narratives. I will argue that his emancipatory, resistant discourses are themselves marked by limitations and paradoxes. In the first four chapters, I will evaluate Said’s arguments concerning identification, exile, intellectualism and discourse. I aim to review his theoretical framework for each of these arguments through an extensive literature review of his work; including books articles and interviews. Thereafter, I will examine the consistency of each of his arguments and the practical implication it has on Said’s wider contributions to postcolonial theory. In the final two chapters, I will analyse Said’s explicitly autobiographical discursive output in his biography, After the Last Sky, and his autobiography, Out of Place. I aim to examine how Said deals with the practicalities of producing representative and autobiographical discourses in the light of his extensive engagement with counter-oppressive discourses, and to assess whether he was able to produce such a model himself. As my thesis focuses exclusively on Said and his critical, theoretical and discursive output, my research will examine his work in order to produce a comprehensive analytical assessment of his theories and narratives. The thesis aims to combine Said’s positional, theoretical and discursive positions and evaluate them in tandem in order to produce a comprehensive and representative evaluation and analysis of his work. My argument is that Said’s efforts to respond to Orientalism, colonialism and imperialism are only partly able to evade the reproduction of Western dominant positions and subordinating narratives because they are themselves initiated from within the metropolitan centre. Although Said’s postcolonial arguments are characterized by a firm motivation to decolonize prevailing power structures and the monopolization of knowledge associated with Orientalism and imperialism, a dilemma arises from the immersion of his discourses and arguments in Western theories and locations. This dialectic of emancipatory alternative and metropolitan privilege becomes problematic in Said’s postcolonial positions and narratives, despite him being adamant that it was possible to formulate new methodologies beyond any complicity with authorities and establishments. I will therefore argue that Said might have found it impossible to circumvent the necessarily limited capacity of his methodologies, positions and narratives to move beyond many of the problematic frameworks of Western canon and paradigms.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > English
Subjects: J Political Science > JV Colonies and colonisation. Emigration and immigration. International migration > JV0001 Colonies and colonisation
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 10 Feb 2020 10:07
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/89686

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