Bruce Robbins Responds to Anjuli Fatima Raza Kolb

If Edward Said were alive today, he who was so very alive to the twists and turns of issues as they form and re-form, I doubt very much that he would go on about (in Anjuli Raza Kolb’s words) “the limits of contemporary political scientific theories of development.”  Does anyone in your field hold such a theory? If not–and I seriously doubt it– then to whom are you speaking if you keep banging that drum?

If Nasser were merely adding new items to an old list of neoimperial sins, he would arguably have been wasting his time.  Why would that be valuable knowledge?  As it is, he wisely showed that projections of civil war onto the non-West entailed the West’s blindness to its own history and to itself.

The next step for scholars willing to pursue knowledge bravely along the path he lays out would be to talk about civil wars that did happen outside the West (not of course Said’s procedure in Orientalism), along with what might now be called genocides, bringing that chaos and violence into the same frame with civil war in Europe and with the barbarism of the western colonial project. That would be interesting.

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