We have no known Einsteins, no Chagall, no Freud or Rubenstein to protect us with a legacy of glorious achievements.
-Said, After the Last Sky ( 17)
This humble epigraph spoken on behalf of the Palestinian people by one of its most visible apologists now serves ironically as his own epitaph, for Edward Said surely has achieved as impressive a position in academia as anyone in the twentieth century, and he now enters the lists of memorable contributors to the human project. One notes that such a sentence, relatively brief as it may be, nonetheless & bristles with the combative nature of much of Said's best ideas- the notion of achievement, of working toward the production of a "legacy," of intellectual work that serves the role of armor or soldiering. And, of course, behind the creation of such a sentence stands the question of perception, of self-presentation in the world, and of how the world chooses to define an individual or, in this case, an entire people. Edward Said, famous for his groundbreaking work on the portrayal of colonial peoples by their nineteenth and early twentieth century masters, was clearly haunted all his life by the curse and the blessing of his own hybridized identity as a Palestinian living abroad and mingling with a world that would have been happy to reward him for quietly ignoring the discomfiting facts of his origins.1
Paradoxical Citizenship: A Tribute to Edward Said
Hawley, J. C. (2006). Edward Said, John Berger, Jean Mohr: In Search of an Other Optic. In S. Nagy-Zekmi (Ed.), Paradoxical Citizenship: A Tribute to Edward Said (pp. 203–210). Lexington Press.