Intellectual giant Edward Said remembered on 20th anniversary of his death

Intellectual giant Edward Said remembered on 20th anniversary of his death
3 min read
26 September, 2023
Monday marked 20 years since the passing of the Palestinian-American founder of postcolonial theory, Edward Said whose groundbreaking work notably amplified Arab and Palestinian issues in the Western world.
Edward Said's magnum opus Orientalism sharply critiqued Western studies of the Middle East (Getty)

Known as one of the most prolific literary figures of the 20th century, Edward Said was responsible for a profound transformation in the depiction of Arab and Asian culture and history in the Western world.

Hailed as the ‘father of postcolonial studies’, the Palestinian-American literary critic, activist and academic is recognized for breaking barriers in his critical examination of the impact of Western imperialism and colonialism.

Said’s seminal work, 1978’s Orientalism, was a crucial expose of the centuries-old harmful myths and stereotypes that characterised the "Orient", a nebulous region stretching from Africa through the Middle East to East Asia.



Edward Said was also an outspoken advocate for Palestinian liberation, writing a plethora of books and articles outwardly supporting Palestinian rights and other Arab causes.

Twenty years after he passed away on September 25 2003, Said’s imprint on academia, politics, and philosophy is still felt.

Many people paid their respects on Twitter, honouring the late Palestinian academic's life and legacy.  

Palestinian activist and former education minister Hanan Ashrawi tweeted, “Edward Said: friend, mentor, & intellectual giant. His contributions to the history of ideas, critical theory & culture have made a global qualitative difference. He is missed.” 

Amar Mustafa added, “20 years since we lost the great Edward Said. A brilliant scholar who played a critical part in bringing the invisible Arab voice to the forefront.” 

Other people discussed how the 20th anniversary of Said’s death ultimately emphasised the importance of his ‘magnus opus’, Orientalism, which continues to question and challenge the Western-normative lens of the Middle East and other parts of the world. 

Professor Ussama Makdisi wrote, "Edward Said, who died 20 years ago, wrote an incredibly poignant preface in 2003 for the 25th anniversary edition of Orientalism. Sums so much of his thinking about the problem of Orientalism & that of the 'semi-mythical construct' called the Orient. Teaching the book tomorrow."