Muhammad Ahmad's Reviews > Culture and Imperialism

Culture and Imperialism by Edward W. Said
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Jan 15, 11

bookshelves: lit-crit

Like all of Edward Said's writings this book is endlessly repetitive, but if you can wade through the thickets of verbiage you'll find gems of extraordinary insight. The subject of the book is obvious from the title, but the book also offers a trenchant critique of nativist nationalism. Drawing on Fanon, Said argues that nationalism might serve as a mobilizing force during the war of liberation but unless it develops a social and political vision in its evolution toward liberation, it will ossify into mere nativism. Said's analysis of empire's cultural appendages, and the responses of the colonized are original, but unfortunately there is little that is original in his chapter on America. His commentary on Conrad, whom he oldly lumps with Kipling over and over, is equally problematic. For a superior analysis of Conrad's prophetic "Heart of Darkness", I'd recommend Sven Lindqvist's "Exterminate All the Brutes".
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