Edward Said’s Intellectual Legacy in the Arab World
This article discusses Edward Said’s intellectual legacy in the Arab world. After examining Said’s own cultural influences, the trajectory of his early academic career in America, and his “re-orientation” towards his Arab identity and culture following the 1967 war, the author focuses on the reception of his works in Arab intellectual circles. Though Orientalism was initially misperceived through the frame of identity politics, his theoretical writings exerted a steadily growing impact on Arab criticism, particularly by offering a way out of its methodological dependency on the West. The author suggests that Said’s final role as an oppositional intellectual “speaking truth to power,” which reached beyond the Arab intelligentsia to a broader audience, may in the final analysis be his most lasting contribution. SABRY HAFEZ is professor of modern Arabic and comparative literature at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He is the author and editor of some twenty books in Arabic on poetry, drama, literary theory, and the Arab novel and short story (including works on Naguib Mahfouz, Yusif Idriss, and Mahmoud Darwish). His works in English include The Genesis of Arabic Narrative Discourse (Saqi, 1993) and several edited volumes, including A Reader of Modern Arabic Short Stories and Modern Arabic Criticism (Saqi, 2004).
Sabry Hafez is professor of modern Arabic and comparative literature at the