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’s Discourse


takes the form of acknowledged or unconscious influence

creative borrowing, or wholesale appropriation, the

movement of ideas and theories from one place to another

is both a fact of life and a useful . . . condition of

intellectual activity. (226)

Of course, the question of why theory travels in the first place is

related to the fact that it is a human activity. Since theory is bound

by the same rules and restrictions as any other worldly activity, it

fails to transcend its own limits as well as the “reality” it attempts to

inscribe. Similarly, the role of the theorist is marked by certain

restrictions in time and space. In the case of


, one might

say that the story of its origins begins in the late sixties at a time

when university campuses were mired in protests and the practice

of theory was in the throes of being reclaimed by its once

marginalized subjects. No longer “a product long associated with

Western discursive spaces,” theory would be refashioned as a tool

for “non-Western and feminist writers” to negotiate their identity

and “write back” to the metropolis (Clifford, 1989).

Yet, what came about was


a rupture or break in theory’s

form and content, but rather a shift in its focus and orientation.

Many of the scholars who came out of this period attempted to

reinscribe the Western tradition passed onto them by a long line of

dead white males. One such scholar was Edward W. Said, whose

life and work can be read as a classic case study for the modern

oppositional theorist. Born in Palestine, raised in colonial Egypt,

and educated in the United States, Said, throughout his academic

and political


career, played an active role in trying to redress the

mischaracterization of Arab and Asian cultures in the West.

Central to Said’s oppositional discourse in



subsequent books such as

Covering Islam

(1981) and

Culture and


From 1977 to 1991, Said was a member of the Palestinian National Council, a

legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization.