ABSTRACT

As mentioned in the Introduction to this volume, the publication in 1978 of Edward Said's Orientalism marked an undoubted turning point - although opinions differ about the nature of the change it enabled. For some, it was no more than a legitimation of the institutionalising of colonial discourse. For others, it offered genuinely novel and liberatory possibilities. Most of all, it made a certain kind of willed blindness, a refusal, all too common in academics, to contemplate the precise nature of the involvement of culture in processes of domination such as imperialism, all the harder to sustain. As a result, much of the criticism which the book attracted came from those whose habitual ways of seeing were fundamentally challenged.