Rereading Said

A marathon reading of Edward Said’s texts regarding politics of representation

March 27, 2015 - 12 PM to 9 PM

If you would like to read at the marathon reading, please sign up to this calendar

Through a shared interest to confront questions around the politics of representation, in images as well as words, and in response to discussions with friends and colleagues, we have decided to organize a marathon reading of a series of Edward Said’s texts since the late 1970s, taking his publication Orientalism as the starting point. First published in 1978, this highly influential and debated work within the canon of post-colonial theoretical texts, continues to raise questions about how Orientalism has done and what Imperialism continues to do and how we can address issues related to :

«  the representation of other cultures, societies, histories; the relationship between power and knowledge; the role of the intellectual; the methodological questions that have to do with the relationships between different kinds of texts, between text and con-text, between text and history. »[1]

In the year 2015 in Montréal, how can we open a space to think about and discuss ideas and discourses that reflect on the archetypes and the current use of terms such as ‘orientalism’, ‘the other’, post-colonial politics, and the geo-political events that take place in the world?  How can we now, in the context of recent traumatic events, the rise of intolerance in Europe, the ongoing war in Syria and conflicts throughout the Middle East, think about topics of emancipation, opposition and suppression within the framework of cultural production? How can we use this critical discourse on the politics of representation that has since the late 1970s, influenced not only academia but also the visual arts and specifically the exhibition, as a site of collective narration and cultural valorization? What role do the media, visual arts and large scale exhibitions, whether from the past, such as Primitivism in 20th Century Art (1984), Magiciens de la Terre (1989), A Short Century, (1998), Documenta11 (2002), or more recently, Unedited History andHere and Elsewhere (2014) and, in Canada, exhibitions such as Sakahan (2012) and presently in Montreal at the Museum of Fine Arts, Marvels and Mirages of Orientalism, an exhibition that makes clear to us the necessity of creating a space for discussion and reflection on the aforementioned subjects.

We would like to invite you to participate in this day long multilingual reading event of the following selection of key texts by Said.

Out of Place. A Memoir, New York, Alfred A. Knopf, 1999. Chapter 1, p. 3-20.
À contre-voie. Mémoires, Paris, Le Serpent à plumes, 2002 [1999]. Chapitre 1, p.21-44.

Orientalism. New York: Pantheon, 1978. Intro and chapter 1, p. 6-112, afterword p.301-354.
Orientalisme : l’Orient créé par l’Occident, Paris, Éditions du Seuil, 1997 [1978]. Introduction et chapitre 1 p. 13-131; postface: p.355-382.

Culture and Imperialism. New York: Knopf/Random House, 1993. Intro and chapter 1 p. 3-41.
Culture et Impérialisme. Paris, Fayard, Le Monde diplomatique, 2000 [1993]. Introduction p.11-33, chapitre 1 p. 35-110.


This event will be concluded the following week in a workshop conducted with Monia Abdallah and Monika Kin Gagnon that will allow further reflection on the actuality of this topic.

Our aim is to bring many voices together to share these texts and to create a platform of discussion. We hope you can join us and look forward to your participation.


Barbara Clausen and Sarah Watson
March 2015, Montreal




[1]Said, Edward W. “Orientalism Reconsidered” in Cultural Critique 1 (Fall 1985): 89-107. p.89