Revisiting Said’s “Secular Criticism”: Anarchism, Enabling Ethics, and Oppositional Ethics

Darwin H. Tsen, Charlie Wesley

Research output: Chapter in Book/Entry/PoemChapter


A decade after his departure, Edward Said still surprises us with his affiliative reach, and situating his complex body of work continues to pose a great challenge to scholars. Given the breadth and variability of his writings, critics have put him in a variety of camps: humanist, public intellectual, secular critic, Palestinian activist. In the words of Neil Lazarus, there has “always been an academic and intellectual struggle” over Said’s significance, directed toward “the bearing of his work” and its “ideological, epistemological, and methodological commitments.”1 A recent example of this ever-changing contest in situating Said’s oeuvre is William V. Spanos’s fascinating but overwrought argument that Said’s work can be read concomitantly with poststructuralism.2 Despite such attempts to redefine Said, his work has resisted fitting snugly into any particular intellectual tradition. Recognizing this, Benita Parry notes that writings from the “middle period” of Said’s career are “erudite, innovative, nonconformist and mutable.”3 It is our intention to chart yet a few more relatively unexplored zones of Said’s complex intellectual map, yet we do so in the spirit of contributing to a complex whole, not to reduce Said to a set of easily identifiable characteristics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationGeocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages25
StatePublished - 2015

Publication series

NameGeocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies
ISSN (Print)2578-9694
ISSN (Electronic)2634-5188


  • Critical Consciousness
  • Critical Position
  • Moral Courage
  • National Liberation
  • Spatial Metaphor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Literature and Literary Theory
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)


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