american literature · Ethnicity Studies · graduate school · Politics of Education

Culture and Imperialism: a brief note

One thing to sum up my experience reading this book: exhausting. Often when I read theory I wish there were more concrete examples, so I can make sure I understand the point trying to be made. Not so with Edward Said. He’s nothing but examples. Exhaustive examples. I got his point 30 pages in. This is not necessarily a bad thing, of course, but it starts to feel tedious after a while. I’ll admit, I did not read the entire book. It isn’t necessary, since the specific texts he uses are not on my reading list and not involved in my dissertation. I read a few pages of each analysis, to make sure I understood the gist, but he goes into such detail that reading it all just isn’t needed. I got the point quite quickly.

The most interesting take-away so far is this: the idea that the U.S. denies that its actions are in the name of empire, but claims instead democracy as its purpose. The U.S. somehow manages to absolve itself, in its ideological construction of itself, from the heinous actions of the colonizer because, well, we’re doing stuff in the name of freedom, not empire.

Interesting, how we’re able to fool ourselves.

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