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Culture and Imperialism

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  4,689 ratings  ·  170 reviews
A landmark work from the intellectually auspicious author of Orientalism that explores the long-overlooked connections between the Western imperial endeavor and the culture that both reflected and reinforced it. "Said is a brilliant . . . scholar, aesthete and political activist."--Washington Post Book World. ...more
Paperback, 380 pages
Published May 31st 1994 by Vintage (first published 1993)
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Average rating 4.16  · 
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 ·  4,689 ratings  ·  170 reviews

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Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Edward Said makes one of the strongest cases ever for the aphorism, "the pen is mightier than the sword." This is a brilliant work of literary criticism that essentially becomes political science. Culture and Imperialism demonstrates that Western imperialism's most effective tools for dominating other cultures have been literary in nature as much as political and economic. He traces the themes of 19th- and 20th-century Western fiction and contemporary mass media as weapons of conquest and also b ...more
Liz Janet
Oct 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first heard about this collection of essays via Philosophy Tube’s video, in which he praised it as being quite good when compared to another piece of work he read. It is basically a book that focuses on how imperialism and colonialism affected and was presented in the writing of British authors, mainly in the 18th,19th, and 20th centuries; all the while showing how such events shaped, mostly, British and French literature.

“No one today is purely one thing. Labels … are not more than starting-p
Dec 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism employs a “contrapuntal” reading strategy by which he asserts the needs to examine texts from the perspectives of both colonized and colonizer. To read a text contrapuntally is to read it “with a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts” (51). Contrapuntal reading requires not only reading the text in terms of what it includes ...more
Michael Finocchiaro
In this followup to his classic Orientalism, Saïd looks closer at 20th C British and American imperialism. In this series of essays, he "consider[s] it the aesthetic object whose connection to the expanding societies of Britain and France is particularly interesting to study. The prototypical modern realistic novel is Robinson Crusoe, and certainly not accidentally it is about a European who creates a fiefdom for himself on a distant, non-European island."
If you wonder why a white person shootin
Darran Mclaughlin
I didn't finish this to be honest. I got halfway through and gave up. He analyses Verdi's opera Aida as an example of his thesis on the Imperialising nature of western culture because of factors like the fact that Verdi didn't present a thoroughly accurate version of Egyptian society in the opera. He included women among the dancers at one point when in fact it should have only been men. Shakespeare refers to the coast of Bohemia in a Winter's Tale. It doesn't matter that Bohemia is landlocked, ...more
Ali Reda
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Texts are not finished objects.
Foucault's discourse is systems of thoughts composed of ideas, attitudes, courses of action, beliefs and practices that systematically construct the subjects and the worlds of which they speak. Foucault traces the role of discourses in wider social processes of legitimating and power, emphasizing the construction of current truths, how they are maintained and what power relations they carry with them. He later theorized that discourse is a medium through which powe
Jul 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audio-books, history
Maybe even more relevant to the discourse of our times than when it was written.
Aug 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: epistemology
Edward Said’s analysis of 19th and 20th century western written texts is outstanding. In Culture and imperialism Said makes the distinction between the two terms Colonialism and Imperialism. Before this book I used these terms interchangeably, even after reading the book I don’t think I fully understand how they are different. In any case, I now know that Colonialism is the practise while Imperialism is the idea that shapes that practice. In other words Colonialism is: “Now we (The colonizer) ow ...more
Mar 22, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018

So, yeah. The white woman in Africa, aka moi, is always a little obsessed with imperialism. Then again, working in international development where we teach them brown folks how to wash their hands and defecate in a more civilized manner in exchange for food made in USA and human rights, gets you a little fascinated with imperialist ideology and colonial practice, doesn’t it.

Said’s Culture and Imperialism” (1993) is kind of a sequel to his earlier book, now a classic, ‘Orientalism’ (1978). So thi
Aug 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the richest books in content you will ever read. Full of insights and references. A very illuminating work. A must read.
Aug 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I remember being completely blown away by Said's 'Orientalism' years ago, and this book, like that one, is less concerned with resolving every possible issue it brings up than with inaugurating and providing profound moral and aesthetic incentives for a massive intellectual mission.

Said's goal here is not simply to explain the numerous ways that ideas of 'empire' and 'culture' bleed into each other, but to explain the broad humanistic necessity of studying that phenomenon at all. This book, mor
Sep 04, 2009 added it
Shelves: read-2009
Dense and sometimes irritatingly circular in logic, this book is still a fantastic piece of examining postcolonial literary theory. Rooted in literature, this book looks at the history around the works (though not in as extreme a detail as Orientalism and analyses it. When it goes to far, it can tend to be annoying (for example, while Aida is a brilliant example of imperialist orientalising a culture, and the history around it are interesting, it too specifically points to the cultural circumsta ...more
Aug 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I listened to this book through audible, and realized that while readers "skim through" academic researches/books, listeners of audible have the option to "speed-narrate". Some parts of this book I hesitantly listened to through speed-narration. Other parts, however, I savored, replayed and wished I had the book to quote and reference from. Edward Said embellishes his words and prepositions. He makes countless citations of literary work from different parts of the world, and he analyzes the lite ...more
Oct 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Reading this excellent book I realize how little of the power of language is used in everyday life. Edward Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, not surprisingly a master of words. Each sentence in this book is crafted from a large vocabulary to convey exactly what the author intends. The result is a dense work that doesn't allow the reader either a wandering mind or the common practice of skimming.

The man's mastery of English prose is also evident in the depth of his interp
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Petra Ecclestone
This was an unexpected pleasure, as I'd never read Said before and was fearful of drowning in jargon. He's largely un-jargony, with the exception of some mentions of "universalizing discourses" here and there. Pleasantly catholic in his tastes, he finds merit in authors as diverse as Kipling and Achebe. There was a little too much of Frantz Fanon for me, but tidbits I especially liked included a brief discussion of the fabulousness, erudition, and extinction of philology-trained scholars like Er ...more
Kshitij Chaurel
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it
The well written book about contrast between Third World cultures' and imperial nature of Western power. Without no doubt, Said is one of the influential thinker of the 20th century.

However, the book is complex with lots of examples which demand deep understanding of the contexts as well as references.
Muhammad Ahmad
Oct 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 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 ossif ...more
Геллее Салахов Авбакар
Culture and Imperialism is an expansion for the first book called Orientalism, in several respect Edward Said, depict the Press publications of AL Intifada, and several things that relate to the middle eastern questions. Here Edward Said uses a lot of philosophical conceptions such as the one Gramci, and some of Literature figures like CONRAD and Jane Austen. In fact Edward Said, is a real professional when it comes to such concept of Orientalism.
Jan 14, 2021 rated it liked it
3.5, actually. I can't help but prefer Orientalism ...more
Karlo Mikhail
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: criticism
In Culture and Imperialism, Edward Said argues that much of western culture have been historically implicated in the Western project of empire-building. Said concentrates on literary texts, particularly the novel, to expound on this connection. While some novels may not directly call for the subjugation of foreign peoples or distant territories, these texts nonetheless refers to these colonizing ventures as pre-given or ideal. Reactionary notions of inferior “Others” as well as the acquisition o ...more
Nov 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
meandering and totally, utterly fascinating. said does a brilliant job of revealing the ways that empire is overtly and covertly portrayed in the arts (primarily literature) from the late 1700s onward. joseph conrad, jane austen, yeats, verdi, and kipling are all given detailed attention. i got through most of it before i decided to reread it all. said's style is somewhat sprawling and he also includes a fair amount of higher level theoretical analysis. so, i needed to revisit it all to better d ...more
Mar 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is not a mere sequential book of Orientalism,but rather a far-sighted thesis with a relatively sound conclusion.

here Edward said is more explicit about his main object,namely to go beyond the constrained narrative within the terrain of imperialism.he wanted to show us how cultural forms as the novel,historiography,philosophy,anthropology etc, which are product of the culture, contain imperial attitudes and references which are read uncritically.

his intention is not to condemn those aut
With ever Said book I read, my admiration gets greater and greater. The central question of Culture and Imperialism-- one that Said is unable to answer, and one that nags anyone who loves literature but has a conscience-- is how can we reconcile a brilliant literary vision with the imperialist leanings and practice?

What I love about Said is that he provides no easy excuses for himself or for anyone else. While fiercely anti-imperialist, he refuses to apologize for local elites in post-colonial s
Jun 09, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: people interested in postcolonialism
This book certainly has its problems and I don't agree with all of Said's arguments as breathlessly as I did when I first read it, but considering he was one of the first people to say these things, I still think it's pretty amazing. This book was as important to the way I think about literature as _Midnight's Children_, and that's saying a lot. ...more
Asiye öztürk
Definitely a must-read
Jun 29, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Topical vis-à-vis recent events in Europe (BrExit)and the upcoming election in the USA. The book clearly shows how we view 'others' is based on how 'we' are acculturated. Governments and media posit relations with countries and people, yet alternative perspectives are useful, and bring meaning to world events.
The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look in
Adam Khayat
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The nexus of Said's argument is predicated upon a simple premise: the enterprise of imperialism is founded upon the idea of empire, which manifests itself explicitly and surreptitiously via different mediums in culture. As a result, our traditional conception of imperialist influence ought to enlarge to encompass more than direct physical control; rather, even after the praxis of imperialism ends, it lingers in a kind of "general cultural sphere as well as in specific political, ideological, eco ...more
Sagheer Afzal
Dec 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Edward Said does make some salient and profound observations in this book. But this book is not without its flaws. One major negative point about this book is that Edward Said seems to have an exalted view of literature; especially Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' and Kipling's 'Kim' and EM Forsters 'Passage To India'. He seems to think that every western novel is an amalgam of culture and imperialism, and each character in a novel is an allegory for an aspect of imperialism.

However as a book that
Adnan Arshad
I can say i have read this book completely, but can't say i have understood it also completely.

I having general discussion about culture with a friend and he suggested me this book. When i started reading this, i found that this book was written with altogether a different perspective.

It explores relationship between society in general and authors in specific in empires were thinking about their subjects/colonies. It explores thinking pattern of authors residing/living in Britain & French empire
Aug 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely amazing though I do find Said’s writing style and word choice to be a bit inaccessible, but especially as a companion to Walter Rodney’s seminal work, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, and Eduardo Galleano’s “The Open Veins of Latin America” which I’ve yet to read, this book is vital.

Economic and military colonization and imperialism could not have happened and could not continue to happen without the cultural backing in the metropoles. We must not view literature as outside of histor
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(Arabic Profile إدوارد سعيد)
Edward Wadie Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, a public intellectual, and a founder of the academic field of postcolonial studies. A Palestinian American born in Mandatory Palestine, he was a citizen of the United States by way of his father, a U.S. Army veteran.

Educated in the Western canon, at British and American schools, Said applied his ed

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“No one today is purely one thing. Labels like Indian, or woman, or Muslim, or American are not more than starting-points, which if followed into actual experience for only a moment are quickly left behind. Imperialism consolidated the mixture of cultures and identities on a global scale. But its worst and most paradoxical gift was to allow people to believe that they were only, mainly, exclusively, white, or Black, or Western, or Oriental. Yet just as human beings make their own history, they also make their cultures and ethnic identities. No one can deny the persisting continuities of long traditions, sustained habitations, national languages, and cultural geographies, but there seems no reason except fear and prejudice to keep insisting on their separation and distinctiveness, as if that was all human life was about. Survival in fact is about the connections between things; in Eliot’s phrase, reality cannot be deprived of the “other echoes [that] inhabit the garden.” It is more rewarding - and more difficult - to think concretely and sympathetically, contrapuntally, about others than only about “us.” But this also means not trying to rule others, not trying to classify them or put them in hierarchies, above all, not constantly reiterating how “our” culture or country is number one (or not number one, for that matter).” 111 likes
“Just as none of us is outside or beyond geography, none of us is completely free from the struggle over geography. That struggle is complex and interesting because it is not only about soldiers and cannons but also about ideas, about forms, about images and imaginings.” 75 likes
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