Said’s Culture and Imperialism

As I try to digest the numerous readings we have each week, it is helpful to see how all these concepts interrelate as authors cite each other’s theories. Said makes references to Benedict Anderson’s “Imagined Communities” as he explores the importance of nationalism and ideology. Althusser also discusses the importance of ideology in the exploration of culture and nationalism. Said also quotes Fanon in order to illustrate the long lasting effect of European colonization of the developing world, Fanon states that the world was really two warring factions, where Europeans owned most resources (85% by 1914) while natives were the labor force that supported this system (p.196).

In “Subculture” Dick Hebdige further explores the importance of the ideology and culture to maintain the status quo discussed in Said’s book.

Said explores three great topics which emerge in decolonizing cultural resistance; the firs is “the insistence on the right to see the community’s history whole, coherently, integrally. Restore the imprisoned nation to itself” (p.215). What Benedict Anderson also discussed as the creation of a nation-state, one that is homogeneous in its history, culture, language, and goals. This served to validate the ideology of those in power, while denying any alternative histories and even people who are ethnically/racially diverse. The second is the idea that “resistance, far from being merely a reaction to imperialism, is an alternative way of conceiving human history” (p.216) He also this “voyage in” and it refers to ability to include resistance as a normal aspect which was been part of societies’ histories. The third and final point is “a noticeable pull away from separatist nationalism toward a more integrative view of human community and human liberation” (p.216). Yet, Said also explains that “the history of all cultures is the history of cultural borrowings” which basically tells us that this pull away is not a new invention but a revised nationalism which is based on the interpretation and justification of the decolonized power elite or “national bourgeoisie.”

Overall, the concepts of culture, colonialism & imperialism, and hegemony are key to our understanding of societies and power struggles which continue to threaten human populations all around the world. In his book “Hegemony or Survival,” Noam Chomsky warns us of the imminent threat to the survival of our species b the hegemonic and imperialistic power of the U.S. today. Reading Chomsky’s book helped me understand how real all these concepts are.

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