Review Edward Said’s book “Orientalism”

Edward Said (November 1, 1935 – September 25, 2003) was an American intellectual of Arab origin. He was a Professor at Columbia University, a president of the American Linguistic Academy, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Society of Literature, and the American Philosophical Society.

Said was a literary critic, literary historian, music critic, and pianist. He was dealing with cultural studies and he was the author of the famous book “Orientalism”, which revealed fierce critic of the Western conception of the East; the book accused Western science in the spiritual support and justification of colonialism.

Said was an activist of the Palestinian movement. He was a member of the Palestinian National Council, Chief Adviser for Palestine to the United States. He was also a popular journalist, a critic of Israeli policies in the Palestinian issue and Zionism in general.

Said was born on November 1, 1935 in Jerusalem in a wealthy Arab Protestant family. Since 1943, the family lived in Cairo the greatest part of the time, but they also had a house in Jerusalem, in the northern part of the quarter Talbieh.

Said received good education at home and from his childhood he spoke two languages – English and Arabic. After proclamation of independence of Israel and expulsion of the Arab population in 1948, the family loses their house in Jerusalem, and moves to Cairo. Said becomes a student at Victoria College, and in 1951 he goes to the United States of America to study. He becomes an undergraduate in Princeton and receives PhD at Harvard. In 1963 he joins the literary department of Columbia University.

Since 1967, due to the Six-Day War and the Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, he becomes a Palestinian activist. Said also participates in the preparation of documents for the Algerian Declaration PNC session in 1988. He devotes a lot of time to revision of the strongest passages of the Palestinian Charter in order to promote peace.

In 1991 he leaves PNS because of a serious disagreement with the position of Yasser Arafat, who supports Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. Said criticizes the Oslo Accords severely, calling them an instrument of Palestinian surrender and Palestinian Versailles. The last twenty years of his life the activist had cancer, but despite this fact he did not stop his activity. Said died in 2003 in New York (Edward Said. Biography).

Orientalism is an urgent issue to be discussed in scientific circles. Orientalism has been presented in the world politics and culture from the times of the Renaissance, when a period of Western dominance over the rest of the world started. But understanding of this phenomenon shaped and was defined only in 1978 by Edward Said in his book “Orientalism.” Said is believed to be the founder of the theory.

Orientalism is a study about the East. Edward Said gives three definitions of “Orientalism.” The first one is an academic definition. It says that anyone who teaches …
Posted by: Wendie Dobbs

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