Readers of this book will by now be aware of how complicated and paradoxical Edward Said's relationship with post-colonial studies can be seen to be. While we can never take any of Said's pronouncements on matters of contemporary theory as fixed in stone for all time, it is clear that he has neither a close acquaintance with post-colonial theory, nor, in many of his statements (because he hates all 'isms'), a clear understanding of its aims. Post-colonial theory itself, as we may deduce from Arif Dirlik's view of its supposed non-materiality, is open to almost endless interpretation. So, not surprisingly, it is not at all clear what Said himself means by the term. Nevertheless, whether we accept the myth of Said's originary status or not, a close look at Said's writing, to assess what, exactly, is identifiably 'postcolonial' about his work, might prove to be of great benefit.
Post-Colonial Studies has undergone a meteoric rise in the past decade in literature departments throughout the world. The aim of this series is to open up various horizons in the field: to encourage the development of post-colonial theory and practice in a wider spread of disciplinary approaches; to promote conceptual innovation in the study of post-colonial discourse in general; and to provide a venue for the entry of new perspectives. Many post-colonialisms have emerged in actual practice in recent times, but the fundamental thing they share is an interest in the ways in which colonized people all over the world have engaged colonialism, and a desire to analyze the effects of this engagement in contemporary cultural life. While the predominant interest has been in the legacy of the British Empire this series encourages the practical application of post-colonial theory into other European and non-European forms of colonialism, to investigate the ways in which the investigation of post-colonial discourse may illuminate present global cultural relations.