The Rhetoric of Detachment and Collective Identity Politics in Edward Said’s Out of Place: Transcending Modernist Aesthetics
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Original research

This study aims to trace the construction of affiliations, and modes of belonging, in Edward Said’s Out of Place (1999), that transgress real connections and present realities and challenge the coherence of conventional notions of identity and detachment. This paper argues that Said, like his friend Mahmoud Darwish, reassesses his attachments and collective identity politics, not by rejecting his filiations but by finding a way to reconstruct or retrieve them. By thinking of Drawish and Said contrapuntally, this paper shows that Said works through detachments and moves between multiple identities to reconstruct a ‘filiative’ personal narrative that in turn contributes to the (re)-construction of a Palestinian national narrative as a whole. Building on Benedict Anderson’s concept of nationality, this paper illustrates that the national self emerges from the destabilisation of a unified, coherent subjectivity; it comes out of an “estrangement” and detachment from one’s self. Anderson explains that ‘nationality is necessarily an effect of the narratives we tell in the face of an incoherent sense of one’s self, a literal alienation from one’s self’ (1991: 204). This detachment allows Said to open himself to the deeply disorganised state of his history and origins, and to construct them in order, to reconstruct a historical experience and piece together all the different narrative fragments to understand what had really happened in Palestine in 1948 and beyond (Said, 1999: 6).

أحمد قبها
An-Najah University Journals
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Both (Printed and Online)