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Edward Said, Orientalism, and Culture/Imperialism

  • The Public School Los Angeles 951 Chung King Rd, Los Angeles, California 90012 (map)

Next year marks the 40th anniversary of the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism, a landmark in modern intellectual history. This class will provide a basic introduction to both the text and its author, who remains among the most influential thinkers and public intellectuals of the century.

In Orientalism, Said set out to understand the basic assumptions used to represent other cultures, spaces, and regions, and in particular how the Middle East was represented by British and French scholars, writers, and thinkers. Rather than seeing cultural representations as neutral or objective forms of knowledge, Said claims that these representations play a crucial role in promoting imperialism by defining what is "Western" and what counts as "Other" and therefore in need of control and subjugation.

The key ideas of Orientalism became a large part of anti-imperial nationalist movements in Africa, South America, and the Middle East, and it has been credited as a foundational text of Postcolonial thinking--the latter over Said's loud objections.

We will discuss key sections of the book and the short extracts from the two other books, Covering Islam and the Question of Palestine. No prior knowledge of his writings will be necessary.

$2 donation, no one turned away for lack of funds.