Out of Place
A fatal medical diagnosis prompted Edward Said to leave a record of his youth in Palestine, Lebanon and Egypt. “The start of chemotherapy had been a point of no return,” he says, “but a memoir would be the opposite – a going back, an effort to rescue from oblivion a time and place that had all but disappeared.” But his book Out of Place set off a controversy. His very origins were challenged by Commentary and then picked up by others. Said says the attack “is to smear Palestinian claims to dispossession and the right of return.”
Recorded at Tufts University.
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.” 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.