Culture and Imperialism

by Edward W. Said

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

The collection of essays known as Culture and Imperialism was written by Edward Said. This collection speaks to the relationship between imperialism and culture starting in the 18th century and moving through the 20th.

The collection is highly opinionated, so it shouldn’t be difficult to find quotes you can use in your project. For example, Said writes:

We are at a point in our work when we can no longer ignore empires and the imperial context in our studies.

In other words, the empires of the last three centuries had an enormous effect upon the world, and any study of the cultures of the world during that time has to include imperialism as a driving force.

He also has quotes like “Texts are not finished objects.” This implies that Said views texts as open to continuing interpretation as more information about them comes to life. In this case, texts can be viewed in a new light based on increasing understanding of just how pervasive the idea of one country being better than all other countries really was under imperialism.

Another quote from the book that plays into this is:

The power to narrate, or to block other narratives from forming and emerging, is very important to culture and imperialism, and constitutes one of the main connections between them.

You can use a quote like this one to promote ideas about your own opinions regarding imperialism or a reading you have on Said’s opinion in his book about how imperialism isn’t just about picking winners, but picking losers as well and keeping oppressed groups from recognizing themselves as oppressed.

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