Thursday, May 08, 2008

He Said, He Said

How long will it take to recover the academy from its fixation? A long time, if it doesn't admit it has a problem:

So many academics want the arguments presented in Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) to be true. It encourages the reading of novels at an oblique angle in order to discover hidden colonialist subtexts. It promotes a hypercritical version of British and, more generally, of Western achievements. It discourages any kind of critical approach to Islam in Middle Eastern studies. Above all, Orientalism licenses those academics who are so minded to think of their research and teaching as political activities. The drudgery of teaching is thus transformed into something much more exciting, namely “speaking truth to power”.

I'm a stranger to college and university faculties, and I like my distance. So I naver know if any of this is true, or in what degree. I take people's words for it, when so much is said on a topic and nothing I can find is written to say, "No, it's not that bad."