[ilds] Retirement Age during the British Raj

James Gifford james.d.gifford at gmail.com
Sun Oct 25 12:03:17 PDT 2015


Hello all,

I have several students from Bangladesh as well as Syria, Libya, the 
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and so forth -- they have their eyes 
open to the larger complexities of the interests of varying state 
actors, which is partly why they study where they do.  They see that 
everyone has an angle even if the scope is wildly inequitable.  There's 
no corner shop near me anymore, but lots of people hold plenty of 
contradictory opinions for plenty of reasons just as they hold to plenty 
of forms of different faiths (or not).

There's very little in Durrell about left/right: surprisingly little 
given his time and milieu, and what there is is often ironical or 
sarcastic.  In any case, to be concerned with the legacies of 
imperialism, especially in the 1950s during the rapid decolonization of 
Africa and the heat of the Cold War, is hardly surprising -- for Said to 
shift attention away from the Marxist paradigm of (largely 
Africa-centred) decolonization literatures of those 50s & 60s to a 
Foucauldian attention to institutions in the late 1970s and the Middle 
East is also hardly surprising.  But it reminds us that Orientalism was 
a scholarly discipline in academic institutions that disciplined a body 
of knowledge as a "way of knowing" and that Said's leverage grew out 
from an existing set  of often race-based decolonization movements that 
were used to thinking in terms of class rather than through 
institutions.  That "way of knowing" has largely gone underground now 
into area studies or the retitling of departments, but it's operation 
continues apace.  The commonplace today of regarding universities as a 
factory producing trained labour reflects the same kind of processes as 
the service of the university to national(ist) culture, though maybe now 
to global capital as well.  Let's not grow too starry-eyed over the free 
exchange of ideas such that we overlook the /production/ of knowledge... 
  As Said's critique takes on the aura of having accomplished its goals 
with the dissipation of schools of Orientialist Studies, we have to stay 
attentive to the persistence of service by their successor departments 
to the same and new interests.

Said was one-eyed in the sense of being polemical, but it was a polemic 
very much needed in 1978.  To ask the same book to sort out our changed 
situations in 2015 isn't likely to work out well, although there's much 
to be said of reading it in tandem with his later /Culture and 
Imperialism/.  I critique Said often for the specific things I work on, 
but he's one of the defining critical voices of the latter part of the 
20th century.

I still think the signal word in "Bitter Lemons," to me at least as a 
reader, is "unsaid" and how it catches to the other negation, "unshed."

All best,
James


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