Culture and Imperialism
Exploring great works of the Western tradition — including Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Austen's Mansfield Park, Verdi's Aida, and Camus's L'Etranger — Edward Said, renowned literary and cultural critic, Professor at Columbia University, and author of numerous books, including Orientalism, exposes how the reach of Western imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries has been nothing less than devastating.
Culture and Imperialism focuses on how power and ideology work, both consciously and unconsciously, to form and maintain a system of domination that goes beyond military force. Taking up narratives brought back by Westerners from the colonized world, Said examines the language, images, and symbols therein to show how their formative, rather than simply expressive, nature has worked to shape the identity, imagination, subjectivities, history, culture, and interactions of the oppressor and the oppressed. He contends that such images have historically shaped how the West has negatively conceptualized the "other," justifying its obligation to rule.
Moving from the development of the empire to global struggles for indigenous freedom, Said cogently reveals the separatist nature of nationalism and attempts to illuminate the possibilities of global community. The critique, insights, and outlook found in Culture and Imperialism are certainly timely in the United States, where nationalism and Western "common cultural values" continue to be woven into the political rhetoric and the very fabric of public education in which mainstream students are taught to celebrate the uniqueness of their tradition at the expense of others. This book is of major importance to any educator who wishes to rupture this country's imperialistic practices and explore the possibilities of a pedagogy and politics of difference.