Culture and Imperialism

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Culture and Imperialism

Culture and Imperialism

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Unfortunately, sometimes, I got the impression that he was saying, "Look how smart I am" when enumerating examples, and several of his points were repeated many times, weakening the impact of the book.

The title is thought to be a reference to two older works, Culture and Anarchy (1867–68) by Matthew Arnold and Culture and Society (1958) by Raymond Williams. Most importantly, his stance isn’t anything as ridiculous as merely saying that a work is ‘imperialist’ and stopping at that but much more akin to a precise psychological dissection of the ways the imperialist mindset affected the work and the stance of the author.Said argues that, although the "age of empire" largely ended after the Second World War, when most colonies gained independence, imperialism continues to exert considerable cultural influence in the present. Said emerges in this, as in his other work, as one of the most erudite, sophisticated, and (perhaps most importantly) profoundly humane thinkers of the past century. 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. That's a project which has arguably become one of if not the dominant goals of the humanities in our age. And even where democracy has established a foothold in these cases we have recently been seeing a backslide to more authoritarian regimes or simply just corrupt oligarchies.

Culture and language are very powerful tools, Said demonstrates over and over how western imperialism uses the written word to dominate other nations and send some into near obliteration. In treating Passage to India, for example, Said ignores most of the critics’ readings, Nicholas Furbank’s biography of Forster, and even The Hill of Devi, and constructs a different view drawn from. Edward Said was a professor of literature at Columbia University, not surprisingly a master of words. To be aware of this fact, it is necessary, according to Said, to look at how colonialists and imperialists employed "culture" to control distant land and peoples.The imperial nations have not only the right but the obligation to rule those nations lost in barbarism to civilize them. He points out in his conclusion that we cannot pigeonhole ourselves as "Man", "American", "White", etc. He says the key to Austen's Mansfield Park, around which everything else resolves itself, is the sugar plantations the Bertram's own in Antigua, which seems ridiculous to me.

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