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Chapter 1 - Said’s Political Humanism

An Introduction

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 December 2018

Bashir Abu-Manneh
Affiliation:
University of Kent
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Summary

What distinguishes Said as a humanist, and what are the core features of his thought? I cluster them into three categories – his political humanism, commitment to modernism, and antisystemic theory – while mainly focusing on the first. Said’s main project after 1967 was to connect culture to imperial practices and humanism to political domination. In the process of delineating this crucial relationship, I show how Said ends up inflating the significance of culture in imperial affairs. He wrongly presumes that the domestic culture of countries that have empires is necessarily imperial (that empire permeates all domestic culture), and that metropolitan resistance to empire only emerges after decolonization. I critically and historically engage him on both counts and argue that Said advances those positions because he assumes that all imperialism is settler colonial (a distinct and deeply intensive variety of empire). I then show what a materialist understanding of the relationship between “culture and imperialism” that utilizes class and capitalism as key categories looks like.
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Chapter
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After Said
Postcolonial Literary Studies in the Twenty-First Century
, pp. 1 - 19
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2018

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