Unsettling the World: Edward Said and Political Theory

Unsettling the World

Edward Said and Political Theory
Kiadó: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
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This is the first book-length treatment of Edward Said?s influential cultural criticism from the perspective of a political theorist. Morefield argues that Said?s critique provides a timely approach that bridges historical analyses of imperialism and postcolonial politics with an urgent imperative to theorize contemporary global crises.

Hosszú leírás:
Jeanne Morefield synthesizes Palestinian American theorist and cultural critic Edward Said?s critical humanism as a conceptual approach for addressing crises in contemporary global politics that demands reflection about historical context and the nature of the collective public before considering solutions to perceived problems. Said?s approach to humanistic inquiry speaks directly to the way scholars of international ethics who speak from a liberal internationalist perspective react to global crises by fixating on the international status quo, often advocating global order for global order?s sake. In the process, Said?s humanism transforms the very idea of what it means to theorize global ethics in a postcolonial age and offers a clarifying way to navigate through foreign policy discussions with conflicting interest groups and ideologies.
Chapter One will introduce Said to a political theory audience who might not be intimately familiar with his work by examining his incalculable impact on postcolonial scholarship. Despite his looming presence in other disciplines, Said?s writing have been largely ignored by political theorists because they don?t fall neatly into the categories of either critical or normative theory. The chapter critiques the way international ethicists de
-historicize institutions of international politics and the privileged position by which Western experts are able to diagnose and ?solve? the problems of the formerly colonized world.
Chapter Two will begin the process of formulating a Saidian response to this form of liberal presentism by looking closely at the promises and challenges of Said?s humanism. The chapter will first interrogate the tension between his support for universal ideas like justice and freedom (most apparent in his refusal to dismiss human rights as ?cultural or grammatical things?) and his equally deep commitment to Foucaultian discourse analysis. This combination of worldliness and the provisional, disputable, arguable products of human inquiry compelled Said to situate ?critique at the very heart of humanism.?
Chapter Three will explore the relationship between a humanism that is explicitly historical, critical and global and Said?s conception of the exilic intellectual. The chapter begins with a brief examination of the role of ?exile? in twentieth century political theory more generally. It moves on to examine Said?s conviction that humanist intellectuals engaged in critique must understand themselves as already contaminated by ?power, positions, and interests,? a disposition which elicits an ongoing processes of self
-reflection that asks the critic to pay close attention to their own subject position vis
-visthe event/text they are analyzing. Said championed a subject position for the critic rooted in exile. ?The intellectual,? he argued, ?who considers him or herself to be part of a more general condition affecting the displaced national community is? likely to be a source not of acculturation and adjustment, but rather of volatility and instability.? The chapter will conclude by thinking critically about some of the conceptual problems generated by this approach to exile, such as, the fact that it appears profoundly voluntarist in a way that seems to run counter to Said?s own theory of power. Despite these tensions, the kinds of reflective practices that flow from a position of exile offer a necessary corrective to the unquestioned positionality of liberal internationalism.
Chapter Four will explore the kinds of political reflection enabled by exile, focusing on Said?s analysis of language and the way this fine
-grained approach to language functions in his explicitly political writings. It will begin with an investigation of Said?s conviction that the self
-reflective awareness of the exilic critic entails ?a lifelong attentiveness to the words and rhetorics by which language is used by human beings who exist in history,? a disposition he called philological. The chapter will then turn to Said?s political writings to explore this attentiveness to the kinds of communities both engendered and occluded by pro
Chapter Five will explore the unsettled approach to crisis implicit in Said?s two
-pronged approach his exilic humanism. On the one hand, the practice of humanist criticism compels the exilic intellectual to approach perceived crises in international politics from the perspective of language critique, drilling into the space between words to reveal the holes where narrating subjects should be, subjects who ? despite their rhetorical invisibility ? still daily experience the material violence of a world which refuses to represent them or create the space for them to represent themselves. On the other hand, Said?s critical humanism insists that we engage the kinds of historical analyses that ?protect against and forestall the disappearance of the past? which have fallen victim to the discursive press of crisis.