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(1993) is the Nietzschean-cum-Foucauldian idea that

the will to knowledge leads to the will to power, and that the

notion of “pure” scholarship is at best a fiction. If anything,


teaches us that as soon as knowledge “becomes

institutionalized, culturally accumulated, overly restrictive in its

definitions, it must actively be opposed by counterknowledge”

(Clifford, 1988: 256). A quarter century after its initial publication,

Said reiterated this point by suggesting that the main idea of the

book was to “use humanistic critique to open up the fields of

struggle, to introduce a longer sequence of thought and analysis to

replace the short bursts of polemical, thought-stopping fury that so

imprison us” (Said, 2004b: 874 ).

Still, Said’s “humanistic critique” relies on the anti-humanistic

notion of “discourse” introduced by Foucault in

The Archaeology of



L’archéologie du savoir

), a groundbreaking work that

first appeared in 1969, three years after the now-famous Johns

Hopkins conference on structuralism which introduced to North

America many of the rising stars in French theory, including

Jacques Derrida, Lucien Goldmann, Jacques Lacan, and Roland

Barthes, all of whom would leave their mark on the Anglo-

American academy.

As a young scholar fluent in French, Said made his first foray

into the “Franco-American dialogue in literary theory” (Said, 1999:

134) during the early 1970s when he published in

boundary 2


article titled “Michel Foucault as an Intellectual Imagination,”

which helped introduce the philosopher’s ideas to a wider audience

in the US who were still unfamiliar with his work and the “new

habit of thought” that it presented (1972: 4).



See Spanos (2001). It is of course important to remember that at the time Said’s

article was published, the flow of information was much slower and less regular.

For instance, the proceedings from the 1966 Johns Hopkins conference were not

published in book form until 1970, two years before the appearance of Said’s

article. Moreover, since Foucault’s writings were largely the product of dense

“bibliographic saturations” and were thus difficult to reproduce through “simple

mimicry,” he was also, among his French cohorts, “one of the last to be imitated”