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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals: Reading Edward Said as an International Relations Theorist
Shampa Biswas Millennium - Journal of International Studies 2007 36: 117 DOI: 10.1177/03058298070360010801 The online version of this article can be found at:

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals

Empire and Global Public Intellectuals: Reading Edward Said as an International Relations Theorist
Shampa Biswas
This essay begins by expressing a concern with the much-too-easy retrieval of empire in the writings of many commentators across the political spectrum. I suggest, via a reading of Edward Said as an International Relations theorist, that part of our failing, as scholars of the global, to prevent such a resurrection lies in a discipline too focused on depoliticized technocratic expertise and overly nationalistic in its orientation. What Edward Said has to offer IR scholars, I argue, is a global intellectual posture a sensibility that involves a critical but hospitable awareness of an inhabited and co-habited world and an intellectual approach that provides a rigorous and more complete approach to the global. Saids thoughts on humanism help situate the most marginal and underrepresented bodies rmly and concretely into the center of an IR that that has been mostly greatpower focused in the questions and issues it attends to. Saids discussions of contrapuntality provides a method that enables the study of simultaneous and mutually constitutive (of East and West, North and South) histories against the linear, developmentalist (from Westphalia to Globalization) historical narratives inherited by most IR scholars. Understanding our contemporary international relations as a product of a history of cultural encounters (in which colonialism played a key part) would make it possible, for students and scholars of IR, to articulate a global imaginary that is sensitive to both power and difference.

Introduction: International Relations and Imperial Complicities

The recent resuscitation of the project of Empire should give International Relations scholars particular pause.1 For a discipline long premised on a triumphant Westphalian sovereignty, there should be something remarkable about the ease with which the case for brute force, regime change and empire-building is being formulated in widespread
____________ 1. Following conventional usage, when I use the phrase International Relations (with capitalised rst initials) or the acronym IR, I am referring to the discipline that studies international relations.
Millennium: Journal of International Studies, 2007. ISSN 0305-8298. Vol.36 No.1, pp. 117-133

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Millennium commentary spanning the political spectrum. Writing after the 1991 Gulf War, Edward Said notes the US hesitance to use the word empire despite its long imperial history.2 This hesitance too is increasingly under attack as even self-designated liberal commentators such as Michael Ignatieff urge the US to overcome its unease with the e-word and selfconsciously don the mantle of imperial power, contravening the limits of sovereign authority and remaking the world in its universalist image of democracy and freedom.3 Rashid Khalidi has argued that the US invasion and occupation of Iraq does indeed mark a new stage in American world hegemony, replacing the indirect and proxy forms of Cold War domination with a regime much more reminiscent of European colonial empires in the Middle East.4 The ease with which a defence of empire has been mounted and a colonial project so unabashedly resurrected makes this a particularly opportune, if not necessary, moment, as scholars of the global, to take stock of our disciplinary complicities with power, to account for colonialist imaginaries that are lodged at the heart of a discipline ostensibly interested in power but perhaps far too deluded by the formal equality of state sovereignty and overly concerned with security and order. Perhaps more than any other scholar, Edward Saids groundbreaking work in Orientalism has argued and demonstrated the long and deep complicity of academic scholarship with colonial domination.5 In addition to spawning whole new areas of scholarship such as postcolonial studies, Saids writings have had considerable influence in his own discipline of comparative literature but also in such varied disciplines as anthropology, geography and history, all of which have taken serious and sustained stock of their own participation in imperial projects and in fact regrouped around that consciousness in a way that has simply not happened with International Relations.6 It has been 30 years since Stanley Hoffman accused IR of being an American social science and noted its too close connections
____________ 2. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993), 295. 3. See Rahul Rao, The Empire Writes Back (to Michael Ignatieff), Millennium: Journal of International Studies 33, No. 1 (2004): 14566 for a discussion of the emergence of this vast literature advocating empire, with a particular focus on Ignatieffs writings. 4. Rashid Khalidi, Iraq and American Empire, New Political Science 28, No. 1 (March 2006): 12534 and his book Resurrecting Empire: Western Footprints and Americas Perilous Path in the Middle East (Boston, MA: Beacon Press, 2004). 5. The scope of Orientalisms coverage goes far beyond academic scholarship, covering also literature, travel writing, art and political tracts, but the primary focus of the book is in documenting the emergence and establishment of the academic study of the Orient. Written as a sequel, Culture and Imperialism focuses primarily on the literary (and in one case musical) canon, but there is a sustained discussion on academic scholarship in that book as well. 6. I do not mean to diminish here the attempts of a number of critical IR scholars who have indeed attempted such projects. Phillip Darbys The Fiction of Imperialism: Reading between International Relations and Postcolonialism (London: Cassell, 1998) and Philip Darby (ed.), Postcolonizing the International: Working to

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals to US foreign policy elites and US preoccupations of the Cold War to be able to make any universal claims,7 yet there seems to be a curious amnesia and lack of curiosity about the political history of the discipline, and in particular its own complicities in the production of empire.8 Through what discourses the imperial gets reproduced, resurrected and re-energised is a question that should be very much at the heart of a discipline whose task it is to examine the contours of global power. Thinking this failure of IR through some of Edward Saids critical scholarly work from his long distinguished career as an intellectual and activist, this article is an attempt to politicise and hence render questionable the disciplinary traps that have, ironically, circumscribed the ability of scholars whose very business it is to think about global politics to actually think globally and politically. What Edward Said has to offer IR scholars, I believe, is a certain kind of global sensibility, a critical but sympathetic and felt awareness of an inhabited and cohabited world. Furthermore, it is a profoundly political sensibility whose globalism is predicated on a cognisance of the imperial and a firm non-imperial ethic in its formulation. I make this argument by travelling through a couple of Saids thematic foci in his enormous corpus of writing. Using a lot of Saids reflections on the role of public intellectuals, I argue in this article that IR scholars need to develop what I call a global intellectual posture. In the 1993 Reith Lectures delivered on BBC channels, Said outlines three positions for public intellectuals to assume as an outsider/exile/marginal, as an amateur, and as a disturber of the status quo speaking truth to power and self-consciously siding with those who are underrepresented and disadvantaged.9 Beginning with a discussion of Saids critique of professionalism and the cult of expertise as it applies to International Relations, I first argue the importance, for scholars of global politics, of taking politics seriously. Second, I turn to Saids comments on the posture
____________ Change the Way We Are (Honolulu: University of Hawai Press, 2006); Geeta Chowdhry and Sheila Nair (eds), Power, Postcolonialism, and International Relations: Reading Race, Gender, and Class (New York: Routldege, 2002); and Naeem Inayatullah and David L. Blaney, International Relations and the Problem of Difference (New York: Routledge, 2004) have all attempted, in different ways, to theorise how the colonial/imperial becomes transmuted into the international. The point I am making is that there simply has not been the kind of collective stock-taking and intellectual revamping of the discipline as has happened elsewhere. I also do not mean to suggest that the disciplines mentioned approvingly above have been completely or even adequately recongured in a progressive direction. 7. Stanley Hoffman, An American Social Science: International Relations, Daedalus 106, No. 3 (1977). 8. My focus in this article is largely on the US academy, but many of the points raised apply to the study of global politics in other national contexts as well. It may be worth pointing out here that the larger argument that I am trying to make has to do with denationalising the study of global politics. 9. Edward Said, Representations of the Intellectual (New York: First Vintage Books, 1996).

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Millennium of exile and his critique of identity politics, particularly in its nationalist formulations, to ask what it means for students of global politics to take the global seriously. Finally, I attend to some of Saids comments on humanism and contrapuntality to examine what IR scholars can learn from Said about feeling and thinking globally concretely, thoroughly and carefully.

IR Professionals in an Age of Empire: From International Experts to Global Public Intellectuals

One of the profound effects of the war on terror initiated by the Bush administration has been a significant constriction of a democratic public sphere, which has included the active and aggressive curtailment of intellectual and political dissent and a sharp delineation of national boundaries along with concentration of state power. The academy in this context has become a particularly embattled site with some highly disturbing onslaughts on academic freedom. At the most obvious level, this has involved fairly well-calibrated neoconservative attacks on US higher education that have invoked the mantra of liberal bias and demanded legislative regulation and reform10, an onslaught supported by a well-funded network of conservative think tanks, centres, institutes and concerned citizen groups within and outside the higher education establishment11 and with considerable reach among sitting legislators, jurists and policy-makers as well as the media. But what has in part made possible the encroachment of such nationalist and statist agendas has been a larger history of the corporatisation of the university and the accompanying professionalisation that goes with it. Expressing concern with academic acquiescence in the decline of public discourse in the United States, Herbert Reid has examined the ways in which the university is beginning to operate as another transnational corporation12, and critiqued the consolidation of a culture of professionalism where academic bureaucrats engage in bureaucratic role-playing, minor academic
____________ 10. This began in the immediate aftermath of the events of 11 September 2001 with the Lynn CheneyJoe Lieberman committee and continued with the inuential efforts of David Horowitz and his Center for the Study of Popular Culture and the Academic Bill of Rights campaign, and the appointment by Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings of a Commission on Higher Education, which discussed a proposal for eliminating the current system of accreditation by independent, regional bodies and instituting a National Accreditation Foundation created by Congress and the President. (See Alan Jones, http//insidehighered. com/view/2006/06/16/jones.) 11. For example, Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, The American Enterprise Institute, Hoover Institute, publishing house Encounter Books, etc. 12. In a recent article in the New York Times on the ascending pay packages of University Presidents, Roger Bowen, General Secretary of the University Association of American Professors, critiqued the trend of academic institutions increasingly resembling corporations. In his words, Presidents now are C.E.O.s [y]ou no longer have treasurers, you have chief nancial ofcers; you no longer have deans, you have chief academic ofcers. Faculty play the role of labor,

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals turf battles mask the larger managerial power play on campuses and the increasing influence of a relatively autonomous administrative elite and the rise of insular expert cultures have led to academics relinquishing their claims to public space and authority.13 While it is no surprise that the US academy should find itself too at that uneasy confluence of neoliberal globalising dynamics and exclusivist nationalist agendas that is the predicament of many contemporary institutions around the world, there is much reason for concern and an urgent need to rethink the role and place of intellectual labour in the democratic process. This is especially true for scholars of the global writing in this age of globalisation and empire. Edward Said has written extensively on the place of the academy as one of the few and increasingly precarious spaces for democratic deliberation and argued the necessity for public intellectuals immured from the seductions of power.14 Defending the US academy as one of the last remaining utopian spaces, the one public space available to real alternative intellectual practices: no other institution like it on such a scale exists anywhere else in the world today15, and lauding the remarkable critical theoretical and historical work of many academic intellectuals in a lot of his work, Said also complains that the American University, with its munificence, utopian sanctuary, and remarkable diversity, has defanged (intellectuals)16. The most serious threat to the intellectual vocation, he argues, is professionalism and mounts a pointed attack on the proliferation of specializations and the cult of expertise with their focus on relatively narrow areas of knowledge, technical formalism, impersonal theories and methodologies, and most worrisome of all, their ability and willingness to be seduced by power.17
____________ students play the role of customers leading to a shift in emphasis from educational achievement to nancial management (Jonathan D. Glater, Pay Packages for Presidents Rise at Public Colleges, The New York Times, 20 November 2006). 13. Herbert Reid, Democratic Theory and the Public Sphere Project, New Political Science 23, No. 4, 2001. 14. Part of this project involves the recuperation of the word intellectual, as against the more commonly used terms expert, academic, professional, critic, a word that has fallen into considerable disrepute, especially in the US context. (American Intellectuals and Middle East Politics, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Gauri Viswanathan (New York: First Vintage books, 2001), 3323). Rashid Khalidi argues that Saids own major contribution as a public intellectual has been to the Palestinian cause speaking both to US and Arab audiences (Rashid I. Khalidi, Edward W. Said and the American Public Sphere: Speaking Truth to Power, in Edward Said and the Work of the Critic: Speaking Truth to Power, ed. Paul A. Bov (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000). 15. Edward W. Said, The Return to Philology, in Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2003), 71. 16. Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: First Vintage Books, 1994), 303. 17. Edward Said, Professionals and Amateurs, in Representations of the Intellectual, 82, 7382. This, he claims, is especially a problem in the US where

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Millennium Said mentions in this context the funding of academic programmes and research which came out of the exigencies of the Cold War18, an area in which there was considerable traffic of political scientists (largely trained as IR and comparative politics scholars) with institutions of policy-making. Looking at various influential US academics as organic intellectuals involved in a dialectical relationship with foreign policy-makers and examining the institutional relationships at and among numerous think tanks and universities that create convergent perspectives and interests, Christopher Clement has studied US intervention in the Third World both during and after the Cold War made possible and justified through various forms of intellectual articulation.19 This is not simply a matter of scholars working for the state, but indeed a larger question of intellectual orientation. It is not uncommon for IR scholars to feel the need to formulate their scholarly conclusions in terms of its relevance for global politics, where relevance is measured entirely in terms of policy wisdom. Edward Saids searing indictment of US intellectuals policy-experts and Middle East experts in the context of the first Gulf War20 is certainly even more resonant in the contemporary context preceding and following the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
____________ policy experts hold complete sway in the public domain (The Public Role of Writers and Intellectuals, in Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 1245). In the chapter The Return to Philology, he mounts a serious criticism of the specialized jargon (in the humanities) as antidemocratic and anti-intellectual and which he claims simply substitute another pre-packaged idiom for the sound-bite analysis of contemporary print and visual media (see 714). See also the chapter Challenging Orthodoxy and Authority, in Culture and Imperialism (especially 3202) for a critique of academic sub-specialisations and their tendency to depoliticise theory. 18. In the Changing Bases of Humanistic Study and Practice in Humanism and Democratic Criticism, he discusses in particular the inuence of Cold War imperatives (often via the CIA) on the Humanities in the US. 19. These include in the rst period scholars such Samuel Huntington, Seymour Lipset, Gabriel Almond and Sydney Verba (modernisation theorists); and organisations such as the Center for International Studies (CENIS) at MIT (created by CIA) that involved Daniel Lerner and W.W. Rostow, the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) at MIT (under the direction of the Department of Defense and Joint Chiefs of Staff), etc. In the second period, these included the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which created the International Forum for Democratic Studies and the Journal of Democracy and involved scholars such as Guillermo ODonnell, Philippe Schmitter, Adam Przeworski, Samuel Hungtington, Seymour Lipset; and organised conferences bringing together scholars, US foreign policy-makers and members of the moderate opposition in the third world such as Violetta Chamorro and Monica Jiminez. (Christopher I. Clement, Organic Intellectuals and the Discourse on Democracy, New Political Science 25, No. 3 (September 2003): 35164). 20. See in particular the last section of Culture and The Intellectuals and the War in Viswanathan (ed.), Power, 35767. He includes in this critique a rather severe and long-standing indictment of postmodernists and post-structuralists for their political quietism. See Representations of the Intellectual, 1718; Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 1011, 19, 6667, 70, Culture and Imperialism, 303. It

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals The space for a critical appraisal of the motivations and conduct of this war has been considerably diminished by the expertise-framed national debate wherein certain kinds of ethical questions irreducible to formulaic for or against and costs and benefits analysis can simply not be raised. In effect, what Said argues for, and IR scholars need to pay particular heed to, is an understanding of intellectual relevance that is larger and more worthwhile, that is about the posing of critical, historical, ethical and perhaps unanswerable questions rather than the offering of recipes and solutions, that is about politics (rather than techno-expertise) in the most fundamental and important senses of the vocation.21 It is not surprising that the cult of expertise that is increasingly driving the study of global politics has occurred in conjunction with a larger depoliticisation of many facets of global politics, which since the 1980s has accompanied a more general prosperity-bred complacency about politics in the Anglo-European world, particularly in the US. There are many examples of this. It is evident, for instance, in the understanding of globalisation as TINA market-driven rationality inevitable, inexorable and ultimately, as Thomas Friedmans many writings boldly proclaim, apolitical.22 If development was always the anti-politics machine that James Ferguson so brilliantly adumbrated more than a decade ago, it is now seen almost entirely as technocratic aid and/or charitable humanitarianism delivered via professionalised bureaucracies, whether they are IGOs or INGOs.23 From the more expansive environmental and feminist-inspired understandings of human security, understandings of global security are once again increasingly being reduced to (military) strategy and global democratisation to technical recipes for regime change and good governance. There should be little surprise in such a context that the war on terror has translated into a depoliticised response to a dehistoricised understanding of the roots of terror. For IR scholars, reclaiming politics is a task that will involve working against the grain of expertise-oriented professionalism in a world that increasingly understands its own workings in apolitical terms.
____________ needs to be pointed out here that while Saids early debts to Foucault are obvious and self-conscious (in The World, the Text, and the Critic, he even explains why he prefers Foucault to Derrida), his later writings show an increasing impatience with Foucault. (See his comments on this in Traveling Theory, in The Edward Said Reader, ed. Mousafa Bayoumi and Adrew Rubin (New York: Vintage Books, 2000), 21216). 21. The distinction that Robert Cox drew between problem-solving and critical IR theories was also predicated on such a concern for restoring politics to the study of international relations (Robert W. Cox, Social Forces, States and World Orders: Beyond International Relations Theory, in Neorealism and its Critics, ed. Robert O. Keohane (New York: Columbia University Press, 1986). 22. See Thomas L. Friedman, The Lexus and the Olive Tree (New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999) and The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century (New York : Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2006). 23. James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho (Minneapolis : University of Minnesota

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Millennium What Said offers in the place of professionalism is a spirit of amateurism the desire to be moved not by profit or reward but by love for and unquenchable interest in the larger picture, in making connections across lines and barriers, in refusing to be tied down to a specialty, in caring for ideas and values despite the restrictions of a profession, an amateur intellectual being one who considers that to be a thinking and concerned member of a society one is entitled to raise moral issues at the heart of even the most technical and professionalized activity as it involves ones country, its power, its mode of interacting with its citizens as well as with other societies. (T)he intellectuals spirit as an amateur, Said argues, can enter and transform the merely professional routine most of us go through into something much more lively and radical; instead of doing what one is supposed to do one can ask why one does it, who benefits from it, how can it reconnect with a personal project and original thoughts.24 This requires not just a stubborn intellectual independence, but also shedding habits, jargons, tones that have inhibited IR scholars from conversing with thinkers and intellectuals outside the discipline, colleagues in history, anthropology, cultural studies, comparative literature, sociology as well as in non-academic venues, who raise the question of the global in different and sometimes contradictory ways. Arguing that the intellectuals role is a non-specialist one,25 Said bemoans the disappearance of the general secular intellectual figures of learning and authority, whose general scope over many fields gave them more than professional competence, that is, a critical intellectual style.26 Discarding the professional straitjacket of expertise-oriented IR to venture into intellectual terrains that raise questions of global power and cultural negotiations in a myriad of intersecting and cross-cutting ways will yield richer and fuller conceptions of the politics of global politics. Needless to say, inter- and crossdisciplinarity will also yield richer and fuller conceptions of the global of global politics. It is to that that I turn next.

Thinking beyond the Nation-State Exile as Global Intellectual Posture

Said has written extensively and poignantly about his own exilic conditions as a Palestinian schooled in the Western literary canon and living in the heart of US empire.27 But more importantly, he has also
____________ Press, 1994). See also Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). In my view, Karl Polanyis 1944 classic The Great Transformation is still the denitive statement on the depoliticisation of market economy. 24. Said, Professionals and Amateurs, in Representations of the Intellectual, 76, 823. 25. Said, Europe and its Others: An Arab Perspective, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Viswanathan, 385r. 26. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 328. 27. See especially Edward Said, Out of Place: A Memoir (New York: Knopf, 1999).

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals articulated exile asa style of thought and habitation which makes possible certain kinds of ontological and epistemological openings. Speaking of exile as a metaphorical condition,28 Said describes it as the state of never being fully adjusted, of always feeling outside, of restlessness, movement, constantly being unsettled, and unsettling others, of a kind of curmudgeonly disagreeableness. Exile, he says, is the condition that characterizes the intellectual as someone who is a marginal figure outside the comforts of privilege, power, being-at-homeness.29 Not just foreigners but lifelong members of a society, can be such outsiders, so that (e)ven if one is not an actual immigrant or expatriate, it is still possible to think as one, to imagine and investigate in spite of barriers, and always to move away from the centralizing authorities towards the margins, where you see things that are usually lost on minds that have never traveled beyond the conventional and comfortable.30 What Said privileges here is an intellectual orientation, rather than any identarian claims to knowledge; there is much to learn in that for IR scholars. In making a case for the exilic orientation, it is the powerful hold of the nation-state upon intellectual thinking that Said most bemoans.31 The nation-state of course has a particular pride of place in the study of global politics. The state-centricity of International Relations has not just circumscribed the ability of scholars to understand a vast ensemble of globally oriented movements, exchanges and practices not reducible to the state, but also inhibited a critical intellectual orientation to the world outside the national borders within which scholarship is produced. Said acknowledges the fact that all intellectual work occurs in a (national) context which imposes upon ones intellect certain linguistic boundaries,
____________ 28. Without diminishing its importance as an actual condition; see also Culture and Imperialism, 3323 for his acknowledgement of the enormous misery created by much recent migration. I will attend to this point more fully in the next section. 29. Said, Intellectual Exile: Expatriates and Marginals, in Representations of the Intellectual; see especially 529. 30. Ibid., 52 and 63. 31. It is clear that Edward Said grew increasingly impatient with the politics of identity, especially in the later years of his life (Claire Heristchi, The Politics of Dispossession, Belonging and Hope: Remembering Edward W. Said, Alternatives 30 (2005): 25173). He sees nationalisms, especially in their aggressive versions, as the most virulent expressions of identity politics (and identies the discourse of terrorism as largely a product of nationalist politics of identity, the word terrorist applied indiscriminately to those who are others; Power, Politics, and Culture, 331), but also attacks the academic study of postmodern identities that have proliferated into sub-specialities and been depoliticised and tamed as they have been displaced from their empowering worldly contexts into the academy (Humanism and Democratic Criticism 55; Culture and Imperialism, 3201). In a 19978 interview with Jacqueline Rose (Returning to Ourselves, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Viswanathan), he articulates his extreme impatience with the idea and the whole project of identity, as it was elaborated in the 1960s US and evident as well in the turn to Islam in the Arab world (4301).

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Millennium particular (nationally framed) issues and, most invidiously, certain domestic political constraints and pressures, but he cautions against the dangers of such restrictions upon the intellectual imagination.32 Comparing the development of IR in two different national contexts the French and the German ones Gerard Holden has argued that different intellectual influences, different historical resonances of different issues, different domestic exigencies shape the discipline in different contexts.33 While this is to be expected to an extent, there is good reason to be cautious about how scholarly sympathies are expressed and circumscribed when the reach of ones work (issues covered, people affected) so obviously extends beyond the national context. For scholars of the global, the (often unconscious) hold of the nation-state can be especially pernicious in the ways that it limits the scope and range of the intellectual imagination. Said argues that the hold of the nation is such that even intellectuals progressive on domestic issues become collaborators of empire when it comes to state actions abroad.34 Specifically, he critiques nationalistically based systems of education and the tendency in much of political commentary to frame analysis in terms of we, us and our - particularly evident in coverage of the war on terrorism - which automatically sets up a series of (often hostile) oppositions to others. He points in this context to the rather common intellectual tendency to be alert to the abuses of others while remaining blind to those of ones own.35 It is fair to say that the jostling and unsettling of the nation-state that critical International Relations scholars have contributed to has still done little to dislodge the centrality of the nation-state in much of International Relations and Foreign Policy analyses. Raising questions about the state-centricity of intellectual works becomes even more urgent in the contemporary context in which the hyperpatriotic surge following the events of 11 September 2001 has made considerable inroads into the US academy. The attempt to make the academy a place for the renewal of the nation-state project is troubling in itself; for IR scholars in the US, such attempts can only limit the reach of a global sensibility precisely at a time
____________ 32. Said, Holding Nations and Traditions at Bay, in Representations of the Intellectual. In the rst two chapters of Humanism and Democratic Criticism, he also debunks the notion of a unied, coherent, homogenous nation, especially in a world of widespread migration and critiques all insider attempts at boundarydrawing, identifying nationalism in the latter chapter as one of the three negative models of history whose wake is strewn with ruin, waste, and human suffering unlimited. (50; the other two are religious enthusiasm and identarian exclusivism.) 33. Gerard Holden, The Politer Kingdoms of the Globe: Context and Comparison in the Intellectual History of IR, Global Society 15, No. 1 (2001): 2751. 34. Said, Culture and Imperialism, xxiii. 35. Said, Holding Nations and Traditions at Bay, in Representations of the Intellectual, 2932; Speaking Truth to Power, in Representations of the Intellectual, 928. See also The Changing Bases of Humanistic Study and Practice, in Humanism and Democratic Criticism.

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals when such globality is even more urgently needed. Said warns against the inward pull of patriotism in times of emergency and crisis, and argues that even for an intellectual who speaks for a particular cause, the task is to universalize the crisis, to give greater human scope to what a particular race or nation suffered, to associate that experience with the sufferings of others.36 He is adamant that this is the case even for beleaguered groups such as the Palestinians whose very survival is dependent on formulating their demands in a nationalist idiom.37 American intellectuals, as members of a superpower with enormous global reach and where dissension in the public realm is noticeably absent, carry special responsibility in this regard.38 What the exilic orientation makes possible is this ability to universalise by enabling first, a double perspective that never sees things in isolation so that from the juxtaposition of ideas and experiences one gets a better, perhaps even more universal idea of how to think, say, about a human rights issue in one situation by comparison with another,39 and second, an ability to see things not simply as they are, but as they have come to be that way, as contingent historical choices made by men and women that are changeable.40 The second of these abilities displaces the ontological givenness of the nation-state in the study of global politics; for the intellectual who feels pulled by the demands of loyalty and patriotism, Said suggests, [n]ever solidarity before criticism, arguing that it is the intellectuals task to show how the nation is not a natural or god-given entity but is a constructed, manufactured, even in some cases invented object, with a history of struggle and conquest behind it.41 The first of these abilities interjects a comparativist approach as critical to the study of global politics, locating ones work in a temporal and spatial plane that is always larger than ones immediate (national) context and in the process historicising and politicising what may appear naturalised in any particular (national)
____________ 36. Said, Holding Nations and Traditions at Bay, in Representations of the Intellectual, 44; my italics. 37. See Representations of the Intellectual, 405. He has also noted on many occasions the failures of nationalist formations in the Arab world as well as the larger postcolonial world (e.g. Culture and Imperialism, 299 and 307; and interview with Europe and its Others: An Arab Perspective, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Viswanathan, 38593.) 38. Said, American Ascendancy: The Public Space at War, in Culture and Imperialism; and Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 74, 79, 135. 39. Said, Intellectuals and Exiles: Expatriates and Marginals, in Representations of the Intellectual, 60. 40. It also provides, he says, an experience of displacement which makes it possible to be liberated from the usual career, in which doing well and following in time-honored footsteps are the main milestones, thus giving the scholar a certain kind of freedom to discover (Said, Intellectuals and Exiles: Expatriates and Marginals, in Representations of the Intellectual, 602.) 41. Said, Holding Nations and Traditions at Bay, in Representations of the Intellectual, 323. See also Gods That Always Fail, in Representations of the Intellectual.

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Millennium context. The now famous passage from Hugo of St Victor, cited by Auerbach, appears in Saids writings on at least four different occasions:
The man who nds his homeland sweet is still a tender beginner; he to whom every soil is as his native one is already strong; but he is perfect to whom the entire world is as a foreign land. The tender soul has xed his love on one spot in the world; the strong man has extended his love to all places; the perfect man has extinguished his.42

This suggests an ethos that Aamir Mufti calls a politicized cosmopolitanism which arrives at its exilic globalist orientation not by rejecting ties to ones home, but by travelling and working through them.43 This is the case even for oppositional movements that, despite all the tactical and logistical pressures of daily survival, need to locate themselves in the world beyond their border, to articulate an underlying general theory or world map, to produce what he calls an internationalist counter-articulation.44 It would be folly to suggest that Said, who worked so assiduously for the cause of Palestinian self-determination, was not deeply aware of the attractions of national homes, especially for those rendered homeless in a state-centric world.45 But there is no question that he believed that such yearnings would need to inscribe simultaneously an outward, open, borderless orientation towards the world and its peoples.46 That is what he at different times called an internationalist, cosmopolitan, worldly and global sensibility. From Edward Saids writings on an exilic global posture, scholars of IR can take away an appreciation for the powerful hold of the nationstate form, including its continued salience for expressing the desires and demands of those bereft of access to it, but also a sensibility that demystifies its naturalness and opens up intellectual sympathies and imagination to those marked as other by the nation-state. Such an orientation offers, in short, the ability to truly globalize the study of global politics. In the next section I turn to examine what clues Said offers us on how to exercise
____________ 42. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 335. 43. Aamir Mufti, Auerbach in Istanbul: Edward Said, Secular Criticism, and the Question of Minority Culture, in Edward Said and the Work of the Critic: Speaking Truth to Power, ed. Paul A. Bov (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000), 231. In his wonderful book, The Conquest of America: The Question of the Other (New York: Harper & Row, 1984) Tzvetan Todorov also invokes this same quote in developing his own comparativist approach to global difference. In the next section, I will say more on Saids attention to context or a globality that is concrete and grounded. 44. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 311. 45. See in this context his comments on strategic essentialism (American Intellectuals and Middle East Politics, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Viswanathan, 3401). 46. Indeed, his falling out with the PLO had at least partly to do with the insularity of its leadership. Recognising the pitfalls of nationalist orientations, he also famously said that he would be the rst critic of an independent Palestinian nation-state.

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals that global orientation and sensibility in intellectually and politically responsible ways.

Feeling Concretely, Thinking Contrapuntally

The kind of globalism that Said advocates involves a felt and sympathetic awareness of an in- and co-habited world. In an interview with Bruce Robbins, Said is at pains to underscore that the rootlessness and exilic marginality he promotes are not detached, distant positions that exclude sympathetic identification with a people suffering oppression [e]specially when that oppression is caused by ones own community or ones own polity.47 The exilic orientation involves the crossing of barriers, the traversing of borders, the accommodation with various cultures, not so much in order to belong to them but at least so as to be able to feel the accents and inflections of their experience.48 It is a globalism that is very much linked to Saids unabashed defence of humanism. At the heart of this defence is a commitment to an aware and felt ethic of humanity that emerges from a sense of worldliness (i.e. a sense of the real historical world49) and knowledge of difference. A central defining pole of (Saids) humanism, says Akeel Bilgrami in the foreword to Saids posthumously published collection of essays in Humanism and Democratic Criticism, is the yearning to show regard for all that is human, for what is human wherever it may be found and however remote it may be from the more vivid presence of the parochial.50 Said himself criticises the rampant use of the word human in much of the current discourse on humanitarian intervention, which, as he points out, is conducted largely by visiting violence on distant humans.51 His humanism is an attempt to retrieve the humanity of those distant humans by developing a genuinely globalist ethic. This globalist ethic is not based on a crass abstract universalism, but is very much a concrete, grounded ethic that takes the local seriously. As intellectuals, we all carry, he says, some working understanding or sketch of the global system, but the direct encounters with it in one or another specific geography, configuration, or problematic is absolutely essential to developing the kind of sensibility he articulates.52 In an interview with Jennifer Wicke and Michael Sprinker, Said rejects the indiscriminate use of the word internationalism, reiterating the deep roots of processes in a local or national situation despite their location in varied and larger contexts.53 But it is not a reification of the local, as has already been
____________ 47. American Intellectuals and Middle East Politics, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Viswanathan, 338. 48. Ibid., 338, my italics. 49. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 48. 50. Akeel Bilgrami, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, x, emphasis in original. This seems to be the ethical direction that Judith Butlers recent work seems to have taken as well. 51. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 7. 52. Ibid., 138 (my italics). 53. Criticism and the Art of Politics, in Power, Politics, and Culture, ed. Viswanathan, 132.

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Millennium indicated in the previous section, that Said is arguing for here. While so much of his work, especially in Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism, has critiqued the imperial particularisms of universalising claims to power and authority, what he offers in their stead are locally sensitive, contextinformed and respectful universals. As Mufti points out with respect to Saids work, while the whole can only be comprehended contingently from one possible location within it or a trajectory through it,54 (t)he genuine alternative to (the) universalism of contemporary Eurocentric thought is not a retreat into the local, into so many localities, but rather a general account of the play of the particular in the universalizing processes of capitalist-imperial modernity.55 Indeed, as Mufti also suggests, what Said offers is a rethinking of the local. Recalling his commentary on the exilic orientation as pushing ones scholarly perspective towards the margins from which a more expansive view of the global is available, one may understand Saids attempts to rescue the marginalized perspective of the minority as one from which to rethink and remake universalist (ethical, political, cultural) claims, thus displacing its assignation as the site of the local.56 What Said is offering us here, then, is a felt commitment to the concrete and the situated, especially via the lived experiences of those most marginalised by contemporary global politics. This may yield to IR scholars a reconfigured area studies (shorn of its calculating, ColdWar, strategic logics) or perhaps place studies, providing concrete sites to think the global empirically and carefully.57 What indeed would it mean for IR scholars to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug58 refugees, poor migrants, asylum seekers, sweatshop workers, enemy combatants to build their understandings of the global less from state-centric institutions of world politics and more from the concrete spaces of exception in Georgio Agambens words, where the least state-protected bodies reside? The question then is how one understands the global in a way that remains sensitive to context and perspective.
____________ 54. Mufti, Auerbach in Istanbul, 38. 55. Aamir Mufti, Global Comparativism, in Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation, ed. Homi Bhabha and W.J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 122, italics in original. 56. Mufti, Global Comparativism, 244. 57. While Orientalism has been critiqued for the Eurocentricity of its coverage, Mufti is correct to emphasise the role it played in creating the ground for a nonrepressive study of other cultures (Mufti, Ibid., 118). Mufti points out that Said developed his concept of contrapuntality, which I turn to very shortly, as a response to that critique of Orientalism. In this same essay, Mufti also makes the case for instituting requirements for the study of non-Western languages and literatures in departments of Comparative Literature as a way of de-centring Eurocentrism. I believe there are important lessons here as well for undergraduate and graduate training in the discipline of IR. 58. Said, Representation of the Intellectual, in Representations of the Intellectual, 11.

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals What method does Said offer for abandoning the skewed historiography, the parochial universalism and its uniform theory of progress and the Orientalism which has been the legacy of Eurocentric scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences and cultivating a sense of multiple worlds and complex interacting traditions?59 Contrapuntal readings, Said suggests, are such an attempt at a globalized (not total) description,60 readings that offer just such a method for crafting an understanding of global politics as inhabited by multiple and overlapping worlds.61 It is a method that responds to Eurocentrism as an epistemological problem the social and cultural force of (the) idea of Europe in intellectual life, as in the phenomenal world of global power relations.62 To read contrapuntally, Said argues, is to show a historical awareness of the complex interdependence through which the global has been constituted. As he explains more broadly of
the massively knotted and complex histories of special but nevertheless overlapping and interconnected experiences of women, of Westerners, of Blacks, of national states and cultures there is no particular intellectual reason for granting each and all of them an ideal and essentially separate status we must be able to think through and interpret together experiences that are discrepant, each with its particular agenda and pace of development, its own internal formations, its internal coherence and system of external relationships, all of them co-existing and interacting with others.63

Said argues that a post-imperial intellectual attitude requires looking at different experiences contrapuntally, as making up a set of intertwined and overlapping histories.64 This would mean re-reading the cultural
____________ 59. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism, 523, 76. 60. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 194. 61. Timothy Brennan makes the important point that Said devised contrapuntal criticism as an alternative to hybridity, conjuring images more of independently directed harmonizations and contacts than of mixture and mutual complicity (Timothy Brennan, Resolution, in Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation, ed. Homi Bhabha and W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 48.) While hybridity has found a more hospitable home in critical IR, and much of Saids own analysis shows a clear sympathy with the concept, contrapuntality offers in my view a much clearer approach to understanding global interactions, exchanges, processes and, most importantly, power. 62. Mufti, Global Comparativism, 11011. 63. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 32. 64. Ibid., 18. Discussing the analogical signicance of music for the conceptual development of contrapuntality, W. J. T. Mitchell points to Saids contrapuntal readings of Israeli and Palestinian histories that he once compared to a tragic symphony (W. J. T. Mitchell, Secular Divination: Edward Saids Humanism, in Edward Said: Continuing the Conversation, ed. Bhabha and Mitchell, 1045). I believe that it may be possible to see Saids eventual rejection of a two-state solution for that conict as a genuine embracing of the political implications of the principle of contrapuntality. See Derek Gregory, The Colonial Present (Malden:

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Millennium archive with a simultaneous awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts.65 For International Relations scholars, this method brings attention to the co-constitution of the modern world, including all the fundamental institutions and processes that underlie the conduct and study of contemporary international relations sovereignty, nationalism, capitalism, democracy as well as most of the modern (national, racial, ethnic) identities that define the taken-for-granted in the contemporary staging of international relations. In a similar vein, centring the colonial encounter in the making of modernity, Timothy Mitchell argues for globalising the question of modernity in a way that complicates the narrative logic of modernization and pays due attention to the contributions of non-Europeans to the makings of the modern world.66 In a wonderful usage of Saids contrapuntality, Sankaran Krishna has traced the genealogy of some of the key and taken-for-granted building blocks of IR discourse sovereignty, property, nationness, international law to a series of colonial encounters between the West and its others, encounters that shaped the identities of all participant actors in fundamental ways. In the process, Krishna inscribes the centrality of colonialism in the shape of the postcolonial modern world, problematising and politicising what is otherwise naturalised by much of IR scholarship. To accept the linear Westphalia to Globalisation narrative that is the inheritance of much of International Relations thinking would be, in Saids words, to ignore or otherwise discount the overlapping experience of Westerners and Orientals, the interdependence of cultural terrains in which colonizer and colonized co-existed and battled each other through projections as well as rival geographies, narratives, and histories67 and in and through which the shape of contemporary international relations has been emergent. The too-easy influx and widespread resonance of Huntingtonian clash of civilizations arguments within the discipline and outside of it is partly a product of the sorts of understandings that privilege boundaries and separations over connections and overlaps.68 Quite simply, the NorthSouth relation is at the heart of international relations whether
____________ Blackwell Publishing, 2004) for a scholarly attempt to read the IsraeliPalestinian conict (and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars) contrapuntally. 65. Said, Culture and Imperialism, 51; italics in text. To understand what it takes to cultivate such a habit of reading contrapuntally, see Saids comments on the hospitality and generosity of spirit needed to read philologically in a worldly and integrative, as distinct from separating or partitioning, mode and, at the same time, to offer resistance to the great reductive and vulgarizing us-versus-them thought patterns of our time (50) in his discussions of Auerbach in The Return to Philology, in Humanism and Democratic Criticism. 66. See Timothy Mitchell, The Stage of Modernity, in Questions of Modernity, ed. Timothy Mitchell (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000). 67. Said, Culture and Imperialism, xx. 68. See Saids comments on the superciality of Huntingtonian formulations of culture in Humanism and Democratic Criticism (278, 52). See also The Myth of

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Empire and Global Public Intellectuals or not it has been at the heart of IR, and ignoring its constitutive role in the historical and contemporary practice of global politics is to risk the easy recourse to empire-building arguments that this article began with. Taking seriously Saids critique of origin myths and his proposal for beginnings as provisional, historically situated actions, decisions, and choices, not reified, timeless moments prior to human history,69 what would happen to our understandings of the global if we reorient the focal moments of global history in the telling of the International Relations narrative - so that Bandung (April 1955) for instance occupies a place as significant as Westphalia, not as a moment of discontinuity or rupture, but on the contrary a moment that allowed us to account for a distinct Third World voice and to study change with (colonial) continuity?

I began this article by expressing concern with the much-too-easy retrieval of empire in the writings of many commentators across the political spectrum. I have suggested, via a reading of Edward Said as an International Relations theorist, that part of our failing, as scholars of the global, to prevent such a resurrection lies in a discipline that is far too beholden to technocratic expertise and remains far too wedded to the nation-state construct. Perhaps IR too needs more intellectual histories of the kind undertaken by Said in Orientalism, histories that necessitate grappling with the colonialist trajectories that have undergirded most disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences. As a thinker who has long urged a public intellectualism in the service of a democratic and global humanism, Said also offers us, I have argued, a hospitable and generous sensibility for and a rigorous and more complete approach to the global. Saids thoughts on humanism help situate the most marginal and underrepresented bodies firmly and concretely in the centre of an IR that has been mostly great-power focused in the questions and issues it attends to. Saids discussions of contrapuntality provide a method that enables the study of simultaneous and mutually constitutive (of East and West, North and South) histories against the linear, developmentalist (from Westphalia to Globalisation) historical narratives inherited by most IR scholars. Understanding our contemporary international relations as a product of a history of cultural encounters (in which colonialism played a key part) makes it possible to articulate a global imaginary that is sensitive to both power and difference. Students and scholars of IR would be well served by developing a concrete, critical and sympathetic global intellectual posture of the sort that Said suggests. Shampa Biswas is Associate Professor at Whitman College, Walla Walla, WA, USA.
____________ the Clash of Civilizations (videorecording): Professor Edward Said in lecture/ MEF; executive producer and director, Sut Jhally. 69. Mitchell in Edward Said, ed. Bhabha and Mitchell, 103.

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