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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars

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on 21 August 2016
Said's second best analysis to imperialism, his 'Orientalism' book had covered this topic in different perspective, whoever culture and imperialism contents is all about how in 19 and 20 century the leading imperialist countries Britain and France; the colonisers tried to impose their cultures ideas and will to the colonised India, Africa and Carreabean Islands through not only trade- economic control, and military power, but through literature by imposing sets of code of conduct to the native people as far the language was concerned , and trough Novels ( Conrad, Kipler, Austen, Camus Flaubert ect...) an example: in Algeria during the protectorate between 1830 and 1872 the French had imposed a 'code de l'indigenat ' was a legal charter aimed at extracting certain values from the colonial subjects such as force labor, and imposing the French language by closing Coranic, religious Madras'a or schools, list is quiet long....
This book is good for any one interested to know about imperialism, and on how the colonisers conquested not only the land but mind also according to the analysis or thesis of Edward Said.
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on 28 May 2017
Great book!!
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on 25 July 2009
Contrapuntal and contrapuntally are words that Edward Said uses to describe both the relationship between culture and imperialism, and the way that relationship may be apprehended. In essence: there are two thematic principals in culture, one dominant, and one subordinate (less visible), but crucially these two themes operate in an interdependent and highly dynamic manner. Specifically, Said is interested in examining the "interacting experience that links imperializers with the imperialized." (pg.194). In Culture and Imperialism, his crowning achievement published in 1993, Said examines this interacting experience through the prism of literature, his area of especial expertise.

Said begins his huge and difficult task by discussing, in general terms, the way that in the West (the dominant imperializers since the sixteenth century) cultural representations of the non-European world are crude, reductionist and often racist. Said believes this tendency is not accidental but systematic and part of an imperial impulse that needs to dominate. Voices of the non-European world in Western culture are not expected to be heard, and are deliberately, if not always consciously, suppressed. In Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, for example, the world of the Caribbean plantation is only peripherally referred to, though its existence and economic exploitation are essential to the well-being of the novel's main characters. When referred to, the plantation is subordinate and dominated--no non-European voices are heard. This illustrates one of Said's key arguments: "the experience of the stronger party overlaps and, strangely, depends on the weaker." In a wider political sense--and for Said politics and culture is one and the same thing--the developed world depends on the underdeveloped ("developing") world even though in cultural representations the former often portrays itself as separated and elevated from the latter.

The author also examines the work of Albert Camus, Rudyard Kipling, and Verdi (opera), among others, in detail and critically. Why was the Indian resistance (to British imperial rule) not represented in Kim? Why did Aida not attempt to examine contemporary urban reality in Cairo at the time of its making? Said enjoys and appreciates these works, and those of contemporaneous artists, but cannot help viewing them critically, and urges us to do likewise. He seems to want us to see the imperial motive in all cultural artefacts, most especially in "high art." Knowledge of domination and being dominated has been artificially and falsely separated from "culture", argues Said, whereas it should lie at the centre of our cultural understanding.

One important point that Said makes is that imperialism did not end after decolonisation, and that there is still an intense need to justify domination in cultural terms. The way the media in the West helps to engender consent for military interventions in places like Iraq and Afghanistan being a case in point. Rambo-like movies represent Arab Muslims as desperados, and so on. Journalists and intellectuals who should be able to think more critically, often participate in this cultural brain-washing, having internalized the norms of the state, and go along with the story--North Korea is therefore a "rogue" state, instead of just a state acting in its own interest. Palestinians who decide to resist Israeli domination are always portrayed as "terrorists." But the dropping of phosphorous and cluster bombs on civilian areas by Israel's military does not, apparently, deserve the terrorist epithet.

Cultural domination always meets cultural resistance, notes Said. This is one of the interesting things about the phenomenon of imperialism, and in the second part of his book Said discusses the work of Fanon, Lukacs, and others. In between these discussions, which are interspersed with interesting personal anecdotes, Said returns to his arguments and his agenda: "The job facing the cultural intellectual is therefore not to accept the politics of identity as given, but to show how all representations are constructed, for what purpose, by whom, and with what components."

Great books leave you looking at the world in a slightly different way, forever. Culture and Imperialism is, I believe, one such great text, and even if you cannot agree point for point with everything the author is saying, his overall import, that there is an unavoidable interdependency between imperialism and culture (the two phenomena cannot be artificially separated) is brilliantly and precisely argued. And also like all great books, Said's narrative raises as many questions as it answers, particularly about the nature of domination, and whether liberation can be achieved through "poetry" (a metaphor for non-violence) alone.
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on 11 May 2009
The name of Edward Said will forever be associated mostly with his famous masterpiece, "Orientalism" (Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient (Penguin Modern Classics)) in which he studied many historical and literary texts of the 18th and 19th century to criticize the imperialist background of the field of 'Oriental studies', as it was known at the time. Despite its fame however, "Orientalism" is a difficult read for most people, lacking a clear structure and containing long excursions on generally obscure travel books from the 1820s and so on.

For the readers intrigued by the idea of "Orientalism" but who seek a more structured, accessible and explicitly political version of the same, "Culture and Imperialism" is the ideal book. It is perhaps for these reasons better than "Orientalism" at achieving its purpose, since Said's writing style is also generally better and more polemically strong in this book, and the literary studies are less obscure and more clearly linked to the topic. Though much of it still consists of 'lit crit', there is in this book a direct analysis of the imperialist contents and their historical background of such famous works as "Mansfield Park", Joseph Conrad, the "Aida" of Verdi and the oeuvre of Camus. Said brings all his erudition and subtlety of judgement to bear on these and similar products of culture, and the result is an engrossing, stimulating and effective polemic, while generally lacking in an actual outright polemical tone.

Also of interest is that a significant part of the book is concerned with the counter-imperialist products of culture, from the poetry of Yeats to the evocative works of Fanon and Achebe. As some have remarked already, what it does not do is establish Said's somewhat exaggerated implication that imperialism is the one Grand Theme of 19th Century literature in Europe, let alone the 20th; but imperialism certainly is a major one, and Said has done great work in excavating that particular aspect. In a time when the 'new conservatism' has made it en vogue to unreflectively declare the West 'superior' again to the Orient (despite the West having historically been vastly more murderous and destructive) and in an atmosphere where the ideas of the White Man's Burden are undergoing a revival, the criticisms of an intellectual like Said are sorely missed.
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on 3 January 2010
Edward Said proposes a literay and cultural journey across our recent world history, during the ninentieth and twentieh centuries and its historical facts Imperialism and colonialism, resistance and opposition, decolonization, post-colonial independence movements, the travails of the new independent states, immigration and the hegemony of one single nation over the world. In this voyage we are acquainted with authors like Jane Austen, Rudyard Kipling, Verdi's "Aida", Aimé Césaire, Joseph Conrad, André Gide, V.S. Naipaul, Yeats, E.M. Forster's "Passage to India", Albert Camus and many other writers from both sides of the divide. A complete appraisal of our common recent History from a well known scholar, written in a somewhat complex language but wiht a strong message in it.
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on 14 February 2004
This is a truly masterful and enigmatic work that is immensely readable despite its well-earned reputation. Consequently this is a book that will and should be of interest to everyone, from the specialist to the casual reader who has never encountered theory before.
So why then Culture and Imperialism?
Western societies seem to have entered a phase of collective amnesia whereby colonialism, if it is remembered at all, is envisioned as ending somewhere along the length of the Suez Canal.
Said's thoughtful analysis challenges the modern myth of the end of Empire and of the slow decline of an age of economic and cultural imperialism which came to an end sometime after 1948 with the final dropping of the Union Jack in the final colonially occupied territory.
In many ways economic and cultural imperialism is as pervasive and violent today as it ever was, if not a little more so. Indeed, Said's brilliance in this book is to fundamentally disrupt and deconstruct the modern Western amnesia. Far from being back then and over there Said helps us to trace the links, connections, and complicities between writers as diverse as Jane Austen, J. S. Mill and W. B. Yeats.
For anyone with an interest in postcolonialism Culture and Imperialism is an essential grounding. Not only does the text follow on from Said's brilliant and ground-breaking Ur text of postcolonial studies Orientalism, but it suggests the possibility and methodology of subjecting imperialism to a systemic analysis.
Said has always been controversial, and rightly so. Unlike the quite frankly shoddy and poorly argued vitriol of some of his detractors (and reviewers) Said's work is always superbly well argued and controlled. Whether you support Said's point of view or not you cannot but fail to be impressed by his depth of insight and by the humanism of his intelligence.
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on 26 November 2016
Considered ground-breaking when first published, this book now comes across as a little dated and jaded in its outlook. It is interesting but lacks the impact it had on publication when the prevailing narrative was one in which all imperialism must necessarily be bad and exploitative. Said covers a broad area but only from a narrow perspective - that of the West being bad and non-Western cultures being its victims and morally superior. Thinking has moved on since then to a more thoughtful consideration of the West's attributes and developments in relation to non-Western cultures. Still, the book is interesting as a social document on the thinking of imperialism and culture of the time.
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on 19 August 2015
Said writes with such passion yet combined with scholarship and intelligence.This subject is as relevant to day as it was when first published - surely the mark of a great writer.
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on 2 December 2013
a powerful read on how historic narratives are a basis of understanding the relationship between culture, imperialism and colonization. Powerful indeed
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on 26 June 2014
Edward said, is one of the most influential writers in last century he succeeded in identifying the relationship between the knowledge and the power.
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