chapter  9
13 Pages

Edward Said and (the Postcolonial Occlusion of) Gender

WithELLEKE BOEHMER

That the towering postcolonial humanist Edward Said was no feministthat he was in fact profoundly uninterested by feminism and by gender theory more generally-is more or less a truism if not a cliché of Said studies. Enabling as his ideas might have been to postcolonial women activists and feminists, and useful his deconstructive methodology as a political instrument, Said’s silence on feminism whether as theory or as politics of resistance is deafening.1 Sensitised though he may have been to how perceptions of the colonised attribute negative, feminine features of physicality and moral weakness, he did not seek (was not suffi ciently concerned, or did not feel it was his role) to push the challenging implications of this perception further. Ashis Nandy’s 1983 analysis of the gender politics of the colonial project, in particular of the feminisation and emasculation of the colonised, and of nationalists’ counterhegemonic strategies of masculine self-projection, forms an instructive contrast in this respect.2