[ilds] Remembering Lawrence Durrell, Predictor of our Postmodern World_By Peter Pomerantsev 6/25/2012

Bruce Redwine bredwine1968 at earthlink.net
Sun Dec 6 09:23:40 PST 2015

James, yes.  But it’s precisely Said’s portrayal of “Orientalism” as a scholarly discipline that I strenuously object to.  Said doesn’t discuss India in detail (he admits that); his emphasis is on Egypt and the Near East.  His clear implication is that the Indian Civil Service was just another example of a Western power-grab in an occupied country.  I don’t see this.  As I’ve said before, he overstates his argument and ignores contrary evidence.  I think Said’s argument borders on the paranoid.


> On Dec 6, 2015, at 9:11 AM, James Gifford <james.d.gifford at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'd go along with that, Bruce.  It does make Durrell's stance in /Pied Piper/ remarkable.  However, I would suggest that despite the polemical nature of Said's /Orientalism/, the "Oxbridge" recruiting system is very much a part of that book's concerns.  He's looking to Orientalism not just as a codeword for racism and exploitation but also very much as a scholarly discipline understood through a foucauldian disciplining of knowledge.
> Increasingly, I tend to read /Orientalism/ as a book about the modern university...  I think I'm outside the pack on that one, admittedly.
> Best,
> James
> On 2015-12-06 9:03 AM, Bruce Redwine wrote:
>> It’s probably hard for us in the 21st century to appreciate, but the
>> Brits in India—the “Anglo-Indians” or the “Anglo-Irish” (if
>> correct)—were often big racists.  The historian Niall Ferguson (a Scot
>> educated at Oxford [DPhil]) has written about this in /Empire/ (2002).
>>  He describes how the Brits in the 19th century and early 20th, as a
>> rule, believed in the superiority of the Anglo-Saxon race and its
>> “God-given right” to rule the world under the auspices of the “British
>> Empire.”  Ferguson, however, sharply distinguishes between the British
>> Civil Service in India (relatively few in number, perhaps a thousand)
>> and the British missionary and mercantile class (the great majority of
>> the colonials).  The former (usually recruited from Oxbridge) he admires
>> for its rigorous requirements of service (e.g., a knowledge of Hindi was
>> necessary) and its respect for Indian culture.  The latter he abhors for
>> its attempts to convert, reform, and exploit “the heathen.”  Given this
>> pervasive culture among the Anglo-Indians, it’s quite remarkable that
>> Lawrence Durrell identified with and honored the land of his birth.  I
>> would add that Edward W. Said does not make any such distinction in his
>> /Orientalism/ (1978) and lumps Western attitudes under the latter class.
>> Bruce
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