Culture and Resistance: Conversations with Edward W. Said
Edward Said is interviewed by David Barsamian on the importance and centrality of popular resistance in the framework of culture, history, and struggle. Prof. Said discusses the war on terrorism and the invasion of Afghanistan. On the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he lays out a compelling vision for a secular, democratic future in the Middle East. He proposes a radical solution that cuts through the current impasse with a promise of reconciliation and peace for both peoples. Prof. Said addresses the origins of Palestinian resistance and the collapse of the so-called peace process that has led to a huge expansion of Israeli colonies. He is unsparing in his criticism of Arafat and the PLO. He dissects the role of media propaganda and its golden rolodex of pseudo-experts in shaping public opinion. A complimentary bookend to their earlier collaboration The Pen and the Sword.
New introduction by David Barsamian.
Edward Said, an internationally renowned Columbia University professor, practically invented the field of post-colonial studies. His great works Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism have been translated into many languages and are widely used in colleges and universities. The New York Times called him, “one of the most influential literary and cultural critics in the world.” As one of the few advocates for Palestinian rights in the U.S., he was the target of vilification, death threats and vandalism. The Economist said he “repudiated terrorism in all its forms and was a passionate, eloquent and persistent advocate for justice for the dispossessed Palestinians.” He was a trenchant critic not just of Israeli policies, but also of Arafat, the corrupt coterie around him and the despotic Arab regimes. He wrote: “While I have always advocated resistance to Zionist occupation, I have never argued for anything but peaceful coexistence between us and the Jews of Israel once Israel’s military repression and dispossession of Palestinians has stopped.” Though invited, he refused to attend the September 1993 White House signing ceremony of the Oslo agreement. He denounced it saying “What Israel has gotten is official Palestinian consent to continued occupation.” He felt strongly that intellectuals had a special responsibility to speak out against injustice, challenge power, confront hegemonic thinking, and provide alternatives. His friend Noam Chomsky said of him, “Said was one of the most remarkable and influential intellectuals of the last half-century. Much of his immense effort and talent was dedicated to overcoming the insularity, prejudice, self-righteousness, and apologetics that are among the pathologies of power and defending the rights of the victims.” His memoir Out of Place won the New Yorker Book of the Year Award. His two books of interviews with David Barsamian are The Pen & the Sword and Culture & Resistance. Edward Said died in New York in 2003.
One of America’s most tireless and wide-ranging investigative journalists, David Barsamian has altered the independent media landscape, both with his weekly radio program, Alternative Radio—37 years and running— and his books with Noam Chomsky, Eqbal Ahmad, Howard Zinn, Tariq Ali, Richard Wolff, Arundhati Roy and Edward Said. His latest books are Edward Said: Culture and Resistance, Retargeting Iran, Noam Chomsky, Chronicles of Dissent Interviews with David Barsamian 1984-1996. And the latest book with Chomsky is Notes on Resistance: Interviews by David Barsamian 2019-2021. David lectures on world affairs, imperialism, capitalism, propaganda, the media and global rebellions.
In 2017 Radical Desi in Vancouver presented him with their Lifetime Achievement Award. He has collaborated with the world-renowned Kronos Quartet in events in New York, London, Vienna, Boulder and San Francisco. David Barsamian is the winner of the Media Education Award, the ACLU’s Upton Sinclair Award for independent journalism, and the Cultural Freedom Fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. The Institute for Alternative Journalism named him one of its Top Ten Media Heroes.