Edward Said was a very important American intellectual of Palestinian heritage. He is best known for his 1978 book Orientalism and for being a strong political advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people.
In Orientalism Said argued that the West has been felt that it had the right to dominate and to colonize the East because of prejudices that have been built up through the works of scholars who were supposed to be telling objective truths about Asia and the Middle East. Instead, these scholars engaged in stereotyping the East in ways that were meant to make Westerners feel superior. He says that Western scholars portray the East as weak and irrational and therefore Westerners feel that they have the right to dominate that area. This postcolonial critique of Western scholarship was Said's most famous (and most controversial) contribution to intellectual affairs.