Life paths and knowledge

Edward Said: Intersecting Pathways, Knowledge and Biographical Inventories in a Geographical Register

PD Dr. Norman Saadi Nikro

In the concluding, poetically charged paragraph of his memoir Out of Place Edward Said speaks about himself as an embodied range of ‘currents’ whose ‘dissonance’ and ‘contrapuntal’ implications are significant to the extent that they remain unreconciled and disharmonized: ‘I occasionally experience myself as a cluster of flowing currents. I prefer this to the idea of a solid self, the identity to which so many attach so much significance.’ Adjacent to the tenor of his memoir, this dissonance suggests his abiding interest in the enabling entwinement of his life trajectory and his critical practice, foregrounding how his biographical impulses inform his critical engagement with power and knowledge. By addressing this aspect of Said’s work and undertaking interviews with intellectuals and cultural producers who moved within his orbit, this project concerns the critical and creative purchase of what we can call Said’s biographical inventory and intersecting pathways. The research focusses on Said’s intellectual and existential trails through the postcolonial terrain, the material and imaginative residues, of empire. More specifically, how these inventories and pathways situate and enable his own production of knowledge in respect to the dissonant entanglements of biography and geography.