Culture and Imperialism

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Culture and Imperialism is the 1993 sequel to Edward Said's highly influential book Orientalism from 1978.


In a series of essays, Said argues the impact of mainstream culture (mainly British writers of the 19th and early 20th century, like Jane Austen and Rudyard Kipling) on colonialism and imperialism,[1] and conversely how imperialism, resistance to it, and decolonization influenced the English and French novel.[2] The title is thought to be a reference to two older works, Culture and Anarchy (1859) by Matthew Arnold and Culture and Society (1958) by Raymond Williams.[3]

Said argues that, although the "age of empire" largely ended after World War II, when most colonies gained independence, imperialism continues to exert considerable cultural influence in the present. To be aware of this fact, it is necessary, according to Said, to look at how colonialists and imperialists employed "culture" to control distant land and peoples.


Edward Said was considered "one of the most important literary critics and philosophers of the late 20th century".[4] Culture and Imperialism was hailed as long-awaited and seen as a direct successor to his main work, Orientalism. While the New York Times review notes the book's heavy resemblance to a collection of lectures, it concludes that "Yet that telegraphic style does not finally mar either the usefulness of 'Culture and Imperialism' or its importance."[3] The book is seen as a "classic study",[5] and has influenced many later authors, books and articles.[6][7]


  1. ^ Bernstein, Richard (2003-09-26). "Edward W. Said, Polymath Scholar, Dies at 67". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-21. [dead link]
  2. ^ Hughes, Robert (1993-06-21). "Envoy to Two Cultures". Time. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  3. ^ a b Gorra, Michael (1993-02-28). "Who Paid the Bill at Mansfield Park?". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  4. ^ Tokaryk, Tyler (2003-09-26). "A bridge to the ivory tower: The legacy of Edward Said". CBC. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  5. ^ Pagden, Anthony (2002). The Idea of Europe. Cambridge University Press. p. 336. ISBN 978-0-521-79552-4. Retrieved 2008-10-21. 
  6. ^ Rowe, John Carlos (2000). Literary Culture and U.S. Imperialism. Oxford University Press, US. pp. xiii. Retrieved 2008-10-21. My idea for this work owes much to Said's work in general and in particular to his remarks in Culture and Imperialism[...] 
  7. ^ Young, Louise (1999). Japan's Total Empire. University of California Press. p. 9. ISBN 978-0-520-21934-2. Retrieved 2008-10-21. There has been a recent explosion of work on culture and imperialism, largely inspired by Edward W. Said's pioneering study Orientalism[...], which was recently reformulated as Culture and Imperialism[...] 

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