Mandatory Credit: Photo by Nicholas Turpin/The Independent/Shutterstock (2403453a) Edward Said Reith Lecturer

Culture, Tradition, and Power: a Teach-In Commemorating Edward Said

Brooklyn Public Library – Central Branch
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238

Best known for his landmark work, Orientalism, and tireless advocacy on behalf of the Palestinian people, the Palestinian-American intellectual Edward Said (1935-2003) left behind a formidable body of work that anticipated many of today’s most controversial questions regarding representation, power, and the idea of tradition. Among Said’s key contributions was to articulate an understanding of artistic and literary production as sites of structural power, of culture as a sphere of activity that not only reflected the preoccupations of political domination, but paved the way for its actualization. Yet as a scholar of British literature, he was also embedded within the tradition he critiqued, refusing to cede its contents to the so-called defenders of Western civilization. Rather, Said advanced an understanding of tradition as process rather than possession, insisting on the liberatory potentiality of reading the canon against the grain.

Culture, Tradition, and Power, held in partnership with Brooklyn Public Library to mark the twentieth anniversary of Edward Said’s death, offers participants a chance to explore some of his evergreen questions in a collaborative setting:  What does it mean to be part of a tradition, and what claims does tradition exert on the present? How should we relate to canonical texts that advanced pernicious social and/or political agendas, and their creators? What power is bound up in artistic representation, and is there an ethical way to depict subject positions that are radically different from our own?

The program will feature introductory remarks by Mariam Said followed by a lecture by BISR faculty member, Dr. Suzanne Schneider. Participants will then have an opportunity to work through key ideas in moderated small groups before reconvening for a panel discussion and Q&A period with Suzanne, BISR’s Ajay Singh Chaudhary, and guests Yasmine Seale and Robert JC Young.

Culture, Tradition, and Power is free to attend and open to the public. RSVP is required. To register, please visit the Brooklyn Public Library event page.

Event Schedule

Thursday, 7:00pm ET
September 21, 2023