Culture and Imperialism

by Edward W. Said

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Culture and Imperialism, by Edward Said, is a collection of essays about the cultural traditions related to imperialism starting in the 19th century or even earlier. Writing an essay or other work that summarizes the collection would benefit from focusing on Said’s emphasis on the connection of culture and the conquests of the time.

The collection starts with Said’s main premise, namely that the conquering of countries by Western nations during the past few centuries directly influenced much of the culture of the time. Examples of cultural artifacts that speak to that time include Heart of Darkness, for example. The idea is that the perspectives of the author in Heart of Darkness towards Africa and other colonized countries was that way in the first place because of the actions of the conquerors.

If you see that your people subjugate another, it’s hard to not have that shape your opinions and outlook, after all. Even more than that, the collection goes on to say that the opposite is also true. In other words, works created by oppressed people are also heavily affected by imperialism. An example of this is the poet W.B. Yeats, who grew up under British rule in Ireland.

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