A CIVILIZING MISSION? MUSIC AND THE COSMOPOLITAN IN EDWARD SAID
Though Edward Said’s passionate interest in Western classical music is a well-known aspect of his biography, scholars have largely treated Said’s musical writings and activities as peripheral to his intellectual legacy. Through an examination of his extensive writings on music and his intense engagement with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, an explicitly political/musical project intended to promote Arab-Israeli collaboration in the context of Western classical performance, this article examines how Said deployed Western classical music as a discursive space on which he could inscribe and celebrate the political and cultural values of his mobile, cosmopolitan upbringing in interwar Cairo. Said’s insistence on the universality and political applicability of Western musical forms thus came to represent a mode of relocating a lost form of elite cosmopolitanism as a central aspect of Arab identity and rejecting what he saw as the intolerant, philistine parochialism of the post-war Arab political landscape.
Edward Said, arguably the preeminent Middle Eastern scholar, public intellectual, and cultural commentator of his generation, was famously an accomplished amateur pianist and a prolific, opinionated, and highly visible commentator on Western classical music and performance. His admirers around the world made a habit of citing his musical accomplishments alongside his enormously influential writings in the fields of literary criticism, cultural studies, and politics as markers of his status as a polymath and Renaissance man. Western critics, in particular, often waxed romantic over Said’s musical capabilities; the normally acerbic Christopher Hitchens, who had a longstanding if often contentious friendship with Said, wrote upon his death, “To see and hear him play the piano was to be filled with envy as well as joy.”2
Said’s engagement with music was indeed extensive, longstanding, and public, encompassing dozens of articles, multiple books, and the founding (with the Israeli conductor and pianist Daniel Barenboim) of the “West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,” a summer workshop for young Arab and Israeli orchestral musicians. Beginning in 1986, he served as classical music critic for the leftist weekly journal The Nation, for which he had already written on other subjects. By the early 1990s, he was publishing occasional pieces on music with journals like the New York Times, the New Yorker, the London Review of Books, al-Ahram, and Le Monde Diplomatique. In 1991, he put out his first book-length work dealing primarily with music, the essay collection Musical Elaborations.3 Three more of his books dating from his final years are concerned with musical subjects: Parallels and Paradoxes (2002), co-authored with Daniel Barenboim; On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain (2006), a study of the late works of Beethoven, Mozart, and Canadian pianist Glenn Gould alongside Lampedusa, Euripides, Cavafy, and Mann; and Music at the Limits, a collected volume of his essays on music.4 A number of Said’s other works, including Humanism and Democratic Criticism, Reflections on Exile, The World, the Text, and the Critic, and his memoir Out of Place also deal in some way with musical topics.5 In one of his last interviews, Said described the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as “one of the most important things I have done in my life.”6 But despite the extent, seriousness, and intensely emotional nature of Said’s engagement with music, scholars have largely treated Said’s musical output as peripheral to his intellectual output and his thought.
This may be in part because an initial investigation of Said’s writings on music support a case made by so many of his critics: that despite his trenchant critiques of the intersecting discourses of “culture and imperialism,” he remained a committed Eurocentrist in his literary tastes and scholarly pursuits. But in this essay, I want to suggest something different and more historically specific: that as Said’s musical writing became a central part of his intellectual practice, he began to use Western classical music as a space on which he could inscribe and celebrate the political and cultural values of his mobile, cosmopolitan upbringing in interwar Cairo.7 Said’s insistence on the universality of Western musical forms represented a mode of relocating a lost form of elite cosmopolitanism as a central aspect of Arab identity and of rejecting what he saw as the intolerant, philistine parochialism of the post-war Arab political landscape. Such an approach not only rebuffed the frequently expressed notion that Said’s own transnational and multi-religious intellectual and cultural milieu was somehow not authentically Arab, but also served a specific political purpose which became especially evident in the context of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra project: to make the case to the West that “universal high culture” in the Middle East was not the province of Israel alone.
Said’s musical writings also offer the opportunity to examine the concept of cosmopolitanism in more historically specific ways. Though Said himself tended to present his own cosmopolitanism as rooted in his exile and his simultaneous traversing of geographies and intellectual cultures in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East, his commentary on music reveals something else: a nostalgia for a specific local cosmopolitanism of the elite urbanites of interwar Cairo and Jerusalem, the markers of which were a transnational life within the Levant and a collection of Western-inflected, self-consciously bourgeois cultural and social practices. In this essay, then, the term “cosmopolitan” does not indicate someone like Kwame Anthony Appiah’s “citizen of the world”8 (though Said may have had some of those characteristics as well) but rather the community of mobile Muslim and Christian bourgeois Arab professionals who constituted such a central feature of the Levantine political and social landscape in the interwar years and disappeared so completely into the diaspora in the decade following 1948.
An investigation of the place of Western classical music in the social practices of this local Arab cosmopolitanism and, later, in Said’s intellectual world-view can not only clarify and historicize Said’s thought, but also begin to break down the historiographical divisions between the Middle East and Europe in the twentieth century. Further, contextualizing Said’s musical writings within this local cosmopolitanism helps to explain his commitment to the highly political musical project of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra as part of a broader attempt to cast a specific local cosmopolitanism, inspired by his own boyhood, as representing both an authentic cultural heritage and a possible political future for the Middle East.
WESTERN MUSIC IN THE INTERWAR MASHRIQ: THE ORIGINS OF SAID’S MUSICAL PHILOSOPHIES
The concept of exile as a central pillar of intellectual identity appears not only in dozens of analyses of Said but as a major theme in Said’s own self-descriptions. His autobiography, itself entitled Out of Place, described his childhood and adolescence as characterized by an abiding sense of discomfort and alienation. He tended to cast his own exile as a state of existence between the Arab world and the West—highlighting, for instance, his Western education, his travels between New York and the Middle East, and the scattering of his family in the West and in Egypt and Lebanon. The question of music, though, brings up a different and more historically specific context for understanding Said’s own dislocation: the essentially mobile, transnational, multi-religious (though disproportionately Christian) class into which he was born and which constituted a central demographic of the Arab middle and upper classes throughout Egypt and the Levant in the first half of the twentieth century. In Said’s memoir, Western classical music emerged not as a globalizing cultural force for exiled intellectuals, but as a representative practice of a particular multi-vocal cosmopolitan class in the interwar Mashriq.
Said’s much-discussed childhood was spent in Cairo and Jerusalem. Despite extensive and sometimes vitriolic commentary, it is still not entirely clear precisely how much time he spent in each locale.9 However, it seems that he and his family were participants in the Western classical music sphere in both cities, where classical concerts and lessons represented central social practices among the multiplicity of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish families that made up the Cairo and Jerusalem middle and upper classes. Said’s focus in his memoirs on the Cairene context of his early musical training is perhaps partly explicable by the differences between an essentially Arab-dominated classical music market in Egypt and the increasingly European Jewish-driven Western music scene in interwar Jerusalem. It was Cairo, and not Jerusalem, that formed the basis for Said’s nostalgic recollections of a social space in which Arab elites participated in an emerging Western classical music scene, viewing it as representative of a global bourgeois modernity.
Cairo, which featured a large secular, middle-class population, had by the nineteenth century become a center for Western classical performance, patronized by both expatriate Europeans and wealthy Arab elites. Some commentators, citing Said’s family’s Protestant Christian affiliations and his father’s American citizenship, have thought that Said’s early classical musical training in Egypt was primarily a consequence of an unusually mobile and Western-oriented household. But in fact, it was a normal and even a representative practice of the urban elites of the city. Ara Guzelimian, now dean of the Juilliard School and former artistic advisor at Carnegie Hall, recognized this context in his preface to Parallels and Paradoxes, noting that the “peripatetic nature” of Said’s family history was “readily found in many Middle Eastern [families]” and not in any way out of the ordinary. Furthermore, he noted, Western classical music played a central role in many such households, including his own:
I was born into an Armenian family in Cairo and many of my earliest memories are musical ones—my brother playing Bach Inventions for his piano lessons or the entire family going to a concert at the original Cairo Opera House (for which Verdi wrote Aida), where I remember seeing an ornate white piano reputed to have belonged to King Farouk. My parents attended some of the same memorable concerts and operas as the teenage Edward Said and, in fact, my mother remembers well the stationery store owned by Edward’s father.10
Cairo, whose opera house (built to celebrate the opening of the Suez Canal) dated to 1869, was the site of a vigorous classical music performance scene in the 1930s and 1940s attended by both wealthy Egyptians and expatriate Europeans.11 Italian opera companies were a particularly frequent fixture, but orchestras and solo musicians came through Cairo as well; Artur Rubenstein, Pablo Casals, Alfred Cortot, and Wilhelm Kempff all performed for Cairene audiences in the 1930s and 1940s, as did the Vienna and Berlin Philharmonics, conducted by Wilhelm Furtwangler (an artist who made a considerable impression on the young Said) and Clemens Krauss.12 Wealthy Christian and Muslim Arab families constituted a primary audience for Cairo’s opera, symphony, and ballet performances, though the musicians were mostly imported from Europe. Even after 1952, Nasser’s government promoted Egyptian performances of Western classical music and introduced an opera training school for Egyptian singers, run through the old Cairo Opera House.
This musical scene also featured a vibrant local amateur performance culture. Interwar Cairo boasted a number of music conservatories run by migratory musicians from Europe and other parts of the Middle East. Said’s sister Jean Makdisi captured the multifarious nature of this environment in her description of her dance and music training during her early years in Cairo: “Twice a week, Rosie and I went, together with Clause Dirlik and Linda Fahoum, daughters of Mother’s close friends, to a dance school run by a teacher called Miss Sonia. She had flaming red hair and was, we were told, a Russian trained at the Bolshoi; Mother later discovered that she was an Armenian from Bourj Hamoud in Beirut.”13 The best known of these institutions was the Tiegerman Conservatory, founded by the Polish pianist Ignaz Tiegerman, who had come to Egypt on a cruise after suffering health problems and stayed on to give piano lessons to the children of King Faruq and other Egyptian elites, eventually including Said. Tiegerman led a faculty of seven professors, who taught harmony and solfège as well as violin and piano performance. The Egyptian historian and pianist Selim Sednaoui notes that the kind of musical education included relatively little in the way of theory and composition, “the main aim being to produce good amateur musicians, rather than to offer a strict professional training.”14
The emergence and development of Western classical music in Jerusalem was more fraught. As in Cairo, the introduction of Western classical music had taken place largely through the multiplicity of European mission schools that emerged across the Mashriq in the second half of the nineteenth century. But in Jerusalem, increasing numbers of European Jewish immigrants began in the early twentieth century to found musical institutions that explicitly sought to provide a cultural framework for Zionist nationalism by, as one musical society described it, “disseminat[ing] the art of music in general and that of Jewish music in particular among the Jews.”15 Following the advent of the Balfour Declaration in 1917 and the subsequent explosion of Zionist settlement under British imperial protection, the Yishuv (the European Jewish settler community) began to develop musical education and practice as an important cultural expression of the Jewish presence in Palestine, sometimes with financial and practical assistance from the British mandate government. Consequently, many of the central institutions of Western classical music in interwar Jerusalem had a distinctly Zionist framework. The Palestine Conservatory of Music and Drama, founded in 1933, was comprised mainly of European Jewish faculty and students, with a very small outreach campaign to elite Arab families interested in music; it engaged actively with the government to assist Jewish musicians from Europe to acquire immigration documents.16 Other musical organizations, like the Hebrew Music Association, were even more overtly committed to Zionist nationalism, seeking to build a Hebrew folk tradition that could bolster Jewish claims to Palestine.17
Middle-class and elite Palestinian Arabs, both Muslim and Christian, did engage with Western classical music to some degree, primarily through elite-serving mission schools, European institutions like the YMCA, and the programming of the Palestine Broadcasting Service. As in Cairo, Western musical education fostered and bolstered already sharp class divides. Elite schools in Jerusalem offered music classes, choirs, orchestras, and regular recitals, establishing musical competence as an essential marker of cultural sophistication and class status.18 At the French-run Dames de Sion school in Jerusalem, where students of different means were strictly segregated and studied different subjects depending on their economic status, piano lessons counted as extracurriculars for which pupils paid extra fees, limiting their purview to wealthier families.19 Recordings of Western classical music were readily available in Jerusalem—indeed, part of Said’s father Wadie’s business relied on the sale of such materials to its emerging Arab bourgeoisie. Middle-class Arab families attended classical music concerts at the YMCA and listened to frequent broadcasts of concerts and recordings over the radio.20
There were a few spaces where Arab and European Jewish audiences participated together in a classical music sphere. The entirely European Jewish Palestine Symphony Orchestra featured a number of European luminaries including Toscanini (who conducted the symphony’s premiere concert in 1936 and returned to appear with the orchestra again in 1938), and seems to have occasionally attracted members of the Arab elites, including Said’s parents, as well as Jewish and British audiences.21 Similarly, the PBS seems to have had one orchestra that occasionally included an “Arab Section” along with Jewish musicians, playing both Western and “Oriental” music and instruments.22 In general, though, the administrative, legal, and political divisions that the British mandate government enforced between Arabs and Jews assigned Western classical music to the spheres of European expatriate communities and the Yishuv.23
As Said began to develop the idea that Western classical music and performance represented an essentially autonomous, universalist phenomenon, then, he drew on his recollections of Arab bourgeois life in Cairo rather than Jerusalem, where such repertoire clearly carried with it specific political implications. In his first work to deal explicitly with the links among music, philosophy, and politics, he made the argument that performance, in its “social abnormality,” marked the space between music as a cultural production and music as a private experience, assigning a new kind of autonomy to the act of Western classical performance.24 This idea derived in part from the social experience of his upbringing in Cairo, where performance at both the amateur and the professional level constituted both a social space in which elite Arabs and Europeans could mix and a private intellectual space in which Said and his demographic were deeply interested—a situation not replicated in a deeply divided Jerusalem where classical music had become the purview of the ever-increasing European Jewish settler community.
Members of Said’s social circles in Cairo remembered the city’s music conservatories as easy venues for the social mingling of the multiplicity of religions, languages, and nations represented among his students. One Egyptian student of Tiegerman’s evoked the secularist attitude of the conservatory’s students and faculty:
No one gave any importance to religion. It was a different spirit. My cousin knocked [at the Conservatory’s kitchen door]:
Tiegerman, you’re eating pork. You’re a bad Jew!
You’re right! Won’t you join me? . . . and now you’re a bad Moslem!25
Tiegerman held student recitals at one of the performance halls at the American University in Cairo, attended not only by the family and friends of the performers but also by Cairo’s professional music critics. He himself also performed at salon-like occasions at his students’ homes, private recitals whose audiences encompassed “his students, Moslem, Coptic, and Jewish Egyptians, and Greeks, Italians, French, Armenians, Syrians, and Lebanese.”26 At the same time, for young intellectuals like Said, the music itself represented an intense private intellectual enterprise. After being sent to the United States to boarding school as a teenager, Said routinely met with Tiegerman on return visits to Cairo, though one musical colleague remembered these encounters with his old teacher as rather charged:
At that time Edward Said, in his very early twenties, was trying to impress Tiegerman with his intellectual prowess. There were some uneasy moments when Ed would mention some avant-garde or rare pieces of music and most often Tiegerman was not aware of them. At that time Edward played the “visiting American” in an isolated Egypt which had broken relations with almost all the Western countries, including Great Britain and France, because of Nasser’s isolationist policies.27
By this time, the cultural scene Said remembered from his mobile and cosmopolitan childhood was already disappearing. The multi-national, multi-lingual, multi-religious urban Arab families who made up the core constituency of the classical music scene in interwar Egypt and, to a lesser degree, in Palestine began to dissipate as a consequence of the traumatic upheavals of the 1936–39 Palestinian revolt, the dislocations of war and occupation in Egypt, and the upsurge in anti-colonial activity across the Middle East. As the British deported, arrested, and executed Palestinian Arab political leaders and clarified their willingness to use force to maintain influence in Egypt, many of these transnational elite families at the center of the cosmopolitan life of Cairo and Jerusalem found their livelihoods threatened by the instability.
Worse, their Westernizing, bourgeois mode of existence now began to bring them under accusations of colonial collaboration. “We were all Shawam,” Said wrote in his memoir, “amphibious Levantine creatures whose essential lostness was momentarily stayed by a kind of forgetfulness, a kind of daydream, that included elaborate catered dinner parties, outings to fashionable restaurants, the opera, ballet, and concerts. By the end of the forties we were no longer just Shawam but khawagat, the designated and respectful title for foreigners which, as used by Muslim Egyptians, has always carried a tinge of hostility.”28 Beginning in the late 1930s, such families began to leave Egypt and Palestine for Lebanon, the Gulf, Latin America, Europe, and the United States. With the Palestinian nakba in 1948 and Nasser’s toppling of the British-backed Egyptian monarchy four years later, their dispersal was more or less complete.
As the elites who had constituted the core constituencies of Cairo’s classical music studios, recital halls, and opera houses exited into the diaspora, the city’s conservatories began to close. “By the 1960s,” one observer recorded, “the Academie de Musique on Rue al-Mahdi No. 9 run by Joseph Richter; the Academia Pianistica Scarlatti at No. 1, Midan Soliman Pasha run by V. Carro; the Music Institute of E. Tcherniavsky on Midan Kantaret al-Dikka No. 4; and Joseph Szulc (a Pole formerly with Berggrun) on Abdel-Hamid Bey Said Street No. 7, had all folded up.”29 Tiegerman’s lasted longer than most, remaining open until the pianist’s death from cancer in a Cairo hospital in 1968. This decline in Western classical music training reflected the broader disappearance of the local cosmopolitan elite to which Said’s family belonged.
Said’s defense of Western classical music as an autonomous space unbounded by social or cultural context thus stood, in part, as a claim for the universality of his multi-national, multi-religious, highly mobile social sphere, in contrast with what he (and many others) saw as a provincial, intellectually limited, and autodidactic post-war political culture in the Middle East. When he began in his musical writings to declare, for instance, that Glenn Gould’s overriding characteristic as a musician was “the idea of not belonging to one’s own time and place,”30 or that “the aural world of Wagner is very special to Wagner precisely because it’s so hermetic,”31 he was subtly arguing that his own devotion to Western classical forms represented a universal aesthetic rather than a taste bounded by class, time, and place.
This became a major theme in his later writings about music, in which he repeatedly made the case that such music rose above its cultural context to represent a universalist aesthetic. In an unrealized book proposal written towards the end of his life, Said made this argument particularly for Bach and Beethoven:
These two composers are the two pillars, or panels, not just of Western music, but of major developments in modern culture . . . Yes, Bach was a thoroughly Christian composer, and Beethoven the first really important Western bourgeois-artist of the modern era, and yes there they have been seen to represent everything that is Eurocentric, self-regarding and removed . . . But it isn’t that simple or as cut and dry as this essay in interpretation and understanding argues. First of all the two great figures are prime examples of such polarities as tradition and innovation, system and originality, centrality and eccentricity, the impersonal and the personal. More, because music is so rare and silent, its movement and existence are the purest examples we have of what in Bach is complex inclusiveness and system (never dull or academic: Bach was everything but that) and in Beethoven is developmental energy arising out of self and threatening incoherence as well as expansion and affirmation. . .32
Such arguments also, of course, suggested that Arab music was not universal in the same way. Even within the Westernized circles in which Said’s family moved in Cairo, Arab music constituted a significant interest and commitment, which Said himself not only did not share but in some instances actively scorned. His commentary on the famous Egyptian singer Umm Kulthum, whom he wrote about in several different contexts, labeled her appeal as essentially provincial even while he recognized the extent of her following:
Having been fed a diet of her music at far too young an age, I found her forty-plus minute songs insufferable and never developed the taste for her that my children, who know her only through recordings, have for her. But for those who like and believe in such cultural typing she also stood for something quintessentially Arab and Muslim—the long, languorous, repetitious line, the slow tempi, the strangely dragging rhythms, the ponderous monophony, the eerily lachrymose or devotional lyrics, etcetera—which I could sometimes find pleasure in but never quite came to terms with. Her secret power has eluded me, but among Arabs I seem to be quite alone in this feeling.33
He returned to Umm Kulthum a few times in his writing. In Musical Elaborations, he declared that he had “rediscovered her, and was able to associate what she did musically with some features of Western classical music.”34 But his interest in the topic was obviously limited; he rarely discussed Arab music, was unfamiliar with most of its contemporary iterations, and at the end of his life found himself once again unfavorably comparing Arab music with the Western canon, suggesting that it lacked form and progression.35
In making his argument that Western classical music was a universalist art form, then, Said was drawing on specific aspects of his own (perhaps nostalgic) memories of his boyhood while eliding other aspects of elite urban musical culture in Cairo and Jerusalem. Further, such admiring rhetoric about autonomous musical work uninhibited by socio-cultural context stands in striking contrast to Said’s insistence in much of his other work (and, indeed, in some of his other work on music) that literary and artistic production was, necessarily, culturally specific and politically bounded. As he wrote in Culture and Imperialism, “The trouble with this [uncontextualized] idea of culture is that it entails not only venerating one’s own culture but also thinking of it as somehow divorced from, because transcending, the everyday world.”36
A NEW COSMOPOLITAN VISION? SAID AND THE WEST-EASTERN DIVAN ORCHESTRA
Having made his case for understanding Western classical forms as a “universalist” musical tradition, Said now began to suggest that they might provide useful political analogies. Counterpoint in particular, he thought, could not only metaphorically represent conflict but also suggest modes of political compromise based on the Middle East’s history of pluralism and mobility. This idea became the philosophical foundation for the most concrete of Said’s musical projects: an Arab-Israeli youth orchestra intended to change the ground on which the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was discussed and understood.
As early as 1991, Said was beginning to make the case that the structures of Western counterpoint constituted an “alternative formation . . . of musical time that is principally combative as well as dominative.”37 Commenting on Strauss’ Metamorphosen, he began to imagine the possibilities of counterpoint as political metaphor:
. . . it is, I believe, radically, beautifully elaborative, music whose pleasures and discoveries are premised upon letting go, upon not asserting a central authorizing identity . . . [M]usic thus becomes an art not primarily or exclusively about authorial power and social authority, but a mode for thinking through or thinking with the integral variety of human cultural practices, generously, non-coercively, and, yes, in a utopian cast, if by utopian we mean worldly, possible, attainable, knowable.38
For Said, counterpoint represented a promising political analogy in its capacity to suggest coexistence without coercion. Further, he argued, it might be able to point, albeit in highly abstract ways, to essentially postcolonial types of political formations. The tentativeness with which Said approached these ideas suggests that he was well aware of the philosophical and political inconsistencies that would become apparent in marrying his political activism on behalf of the Palestinians to his commitment to the idea of a universalist space characterized by an exilic attachment to the markers of European high culture.
Nevertheless, these concepts formed the philosophical underpinning for his most ambitious musical project, undertaken in collaboration with another elite, transnational, cosmopolitan public figure in the diaspora. Said described his first meeting with the Argentinian-Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim in vividly visceral terms: “Some immediate but forcefully profound recognition passed from one to the other of us, as it so fortunately but only rarely does in life. . . I felt that something was waiting to come forth, and by heavens, it did.”39 In 1999, along with the American cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Barenboim and Said brought seventy-eight young Arab and Israeli classical musicians to Weimar, Germany for a three-week workshop that culminated in an orchestral performance of Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony, the Schumann Cello Concerto, and Mozart’s Two-Piano Concerto, featuring an Israeli and a Palestinian as soloists. The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,40 with its marquis-name lineup and its avowed purpose of creating a space in which young Israelis and Arabs could meet, exchange thoughts, and make music together without reference to their nations’ political opposition, immediately became a cause célèbre in Europe and was profiled in glowing terms in a number of European and American publications. It was soon established as an annual event and in 2002 settled into a permanent home near Seville, in Spain; the workshop now consistently includes a core group of young Spanish musicians as well as Arab and Israeli members. Even so trenchant a critic as the Israeli historian Avi Shlaim waxed lyrical about the orchestra, calling it “a brilliantly successful experiment in breaking down national stereotypes and in artistic collaboration across the battle lines… it was a beacon of hope.”41
Together, Barenboim and Said conceived of the orchestra as a space in which to model an alternative mode of engagement between Israel and the Arab world. The orchestra’s mission statement declared, “The West-Eastern Divan Orchestra has proved time and again that music can break down barriers previously considered insurmountable. . . . . Music grants the individual the right and obligation to express himself fully while listening to his or her neighbour. Based on this notion of equality, cooperation and justice for all, the Orchestra represents an alternative model to the current situation in the Middle East.”42 In their joint description of the workshop’s first meeting, Barenboim and Said both disavowed the notion that the orchestra represented a political statement or a peace-making mission, while also making a number of claims for it that clearly marked the project as one with specific political agendas.
The workshop proceeded through rehearsals, master classes, and lectures, including some by Said himself on the politics of the conflict and on the relevance of the first workshop’s location (Weimar, chosen as the home of Goethe, is also near the Nazi death camp of Buchenwald). Said described the feeling in the first days of the workshop as tentative and fraught, moving towards genuine harmony, both literal and metaphorical, through the experience of practice and rehearsal. In his description, the process of playing together as an orchestra allowed the members of the ensemble to abandon their national identities for musical ones:
It was also amazing to watch Daniel drill this basically resistant group into shape. It wasn’t only the Israelis and the Arabs who didn’t care for each other. There were some Arabs who didn’t care for other Arabs as well as Israelis who cordially disliked other Israelis. And it was remarkable to witness the group, despite the tensions of the first week or ten days, turn themselves into a real orchestra. In my opinion, what you saw had no political overtones at all. One set of identities was superseded by another set. . . . The transformation of these kids from one thing to another was basically unstoppable.43
Barenboim’s description of the initial meeting also disclaimed a political agenda while arguing for the politically transformative nature of musical collaboration: “Well, having achieved that one note, they already can’t look at each other the same ways, because they have shared a common experience. . . . if we foster this kind of a contact, it can only help people feel nearer to each other, and this is all.”44 There were three bases, then, for Said’s and Barenboim’s claim that the orchestra operated as a peacemaking force: first, that it offered an opportunity for personal contact and the breakdown of destructive stereotypes; second, that the model of playing together replaced national/political identifications with collaborative musical ones; and third, that Western classical music offered a universal language that could serve as an alternative to hostile and mutually incomprehensible political and military exchanges.
In practice, of course, the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra never operated as a neutral space on which musicians from warring regions could uncover the humanity of their enemies. Rather, it represented a very specific vision for the ways in which a remembered form of Levantine cosmopolitanism could be recreated in diaspora, as a model for a different political future. The decision to move the orchestra to Andalusia carefully placed the orchestra within a narrative of what Said called “an alternative model for coexistence between the three monotheisms,” referring obliquely to a romanticized vision of a medieval Spanish “Golden Age” of interfaith tolerance.45 The inclusion of a collection of young Spanish players as a third element in the orchestra further cemented this vision; Said’s widow Mariam spoke of the Spanish members as providing an independent space in which Arab and Israeli participants could meet, thus acting as the “glue” of the orchestra.46 Furthermore, through their travel and performance arrangements for the players, the orchestra’s founders repeatedly overruled the state-level political decisions that would normally have circumscribed the movements of the Israeli, Palestinian, Lebanese, and Syrian musicians. Their political actions cemented the orchestra to its diasporic context and reflected the wealth, prestige, and power of the orchestra’s founders, who found the resources to override governments in the service of their own musical and political visions. The players received an unparalleled professional opportunity in exchange for a willingness to represent Said’s and Barenboim’s transnational cosmopolitan vision in the public sphere.47
After Said’s death in 2003, the orchestra took on an even more activist role as a symbol and maker of peaceful Israeli-Palestinian relations. In 2004, the musicians gave a concert in Ramallah that became the basis for a widely distributed documentary called Knowledge is the Beginning: The Ramallah Concert.48 In order to bring the Israeli, Lebanese, and Syrian musicians to the West Bank for the performance, Barenboim arranged that the players be issued Spanish passports, further reifying the idea of Europe as a diplomatic neutral ground and emphasizing the essentially diasporic nature of the enterprise. He also put together a symposium of Spanish, Palestinian, and Israeli political thinkers and intellectuals (including such academic luminaries as Avi Shlaim and Rashid Khalidi as well as political figures like Mustafa Barghouti and the former Spanish prime minister Felipe Gonzalez Marquez) to construct a political declaration calling on Germany and Spain to intervene in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Although the orchestra represented the starting point for the symposium and was cited as the declaration’s initial inspiration, the players played no role in either the discussions or the final product, and in many cases were actually unaware of these activities.49 The political face of the orchestra in no way showcased the political views of the musicians themselves, most of whom chose to join the workshop not because of the chance to engage with questions of Arab-Israeli relations but because it represented an unparalleled professional opportunity to work with a world-renowned conductor with the power to make a young musician’s career. As one Arab participant put it, “I went to the Divan not because I wanted peace but because I had heard from my colleagues at home that it was a good musical experience, and because I wanted to play with Daniel Barenboim. . . I thought, it’s forty days, it will be fine.”50
In some cases, orchestra members participated in the hope that the contact with Barenboim would assist them in relocating out of the Middle East; one Palestinian player who later relocated to Germany noted, “The whole Divan is in Berlin now, more or less, thanks to Mr. Barenboim!”51—an ironic development, given the diasporic scattering of the earlier cosmopolitan classes Said remembered. Others joined on the basis of what the orchestra called a “second-degree” connection with the region – that is, they had one grandparent of Arab origins—and themselves came from diaspora communities in Latin America, the United States, or Europe. As musicologist Rachel Beckles Willson notes, “In fact the categories of ‘Arab and ‘Israeli’ (the latter sometimes referred to as ‘Jew’) used for players have never once matched the complex realities of the membership . . . If this tendency grows, the players (as well as the repertoire) may increasingly render the orchestra a detached European-American model of a ‘better’ Middle East.”52
Further, political tensions limited the orchestra’s ability to model multi-national coexistence. In 2006, in the context of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, many of the Arab players withdrew from the workshop in protest, and many others objected in the strongest terms to the anti-war manifesto the orchestra published. One Israeli member remembered it as a strikingly unsuccessful season, saying
. . . it was so depressing. There were no Lebanese and too few Arabs in general, and way too many Israelis. It felt like there were just too many of us. Every time Barenboim said, “This is not an Arab orchestra with some Israeli members in it or an Israeli orchestra with some Arab members in it,” I thought, Yes it is! Then there was that stupid declaration against the war. That was one of the stupidest things I encountered in the last three years in the Divan.53
The organization, which is still extant, has thus far focused almost exclusively on the most traditional of nineteenth-century works. Its signature piece is Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, a piece that famously features text from Schiller’s “Ode to Joy” on the brotherhood of man. “This is music,” the literary critic Ben Ethrington has written rather sardonically, “designed to elicit tears of catharsis and get an audience to its feet.”54 The strategy seems to have worked on critics and audiences alike; reviewing the orchestra’s 2013 appearance at Carnegie Hall in New York, the New York Times music critic Anthony Tommasini wrote, “Though Schiller’s ode has a corny streak, in a good performance Beethoven’s stormy, celestial and exuberant music sweeps you away . . . It is hard to think of a more appropriate piece for the players to perform on an important occasion.”55 Most responses from the West have unquestioningly accepted the stance that there is something “universal” about this repertoire that makes it particularly appropriate for a mission of symbolic musical peacemaking. (The New Yorker music critic Alex Ross represented a rare exception in a much more nuanced review of the same performance, in which he noted some of the scholarly critiques of the enterprise and stated categorically that “an ensemble dedicated to engaging contemporary social reality should engage more often with contemporary music, and this one should certainly include voices from the Middle East.”56) Published responses to the orchestra’s public performances have included virtually no commentary on the ways in which this Enlightenment-inspired repertoire reflects teleological philosophies underpinning precisely the European imperial experiment that helped to create the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the first place.
The philosophical basis for the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, then, included a number of assumptions antithetical to Said’s own sophisticated and nuanced critiques of the histories of European imperial power in the Middle East and its consequences in the form of an Israeli state. Why would Said have supported such an endeavor? Did his participation in the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra project indicate a broader shift in his theoretical and political thinking, or merely indicate philosophical inconsistencies? After all, just before his death Said called the orchestra “one of the most important things I have done in my life,” going on to make the case that “[t]he orchestra is nonpolitical and has no ulterior motive. It doesn't pretend to be building bridges and all that hokey stuff. But there it is, a paradigm of coherent and intelligent living together.”57 Such commentary, which ignores so many of the lessons of Said’s own work, is not comprehensible within the context of his theorizations on culture and power. It makes sense only as a manifestation of the claim that the elite, transnational social and cultural Arab milieu in which Said grew up had represented both a universal aesthetic and a commendable political vision that could be reconstructed, if only in the diaspora, as an alternative to grim contemporary realities.
LOCAL COSMOPOLITANISM AND CULTURAL AUTHENTICITY IN THE MIDDLE EAST
In an article written after Said’s death, the American literary scholar John Carlos Rowe noted, “It is by now commonplace to criticize Said for his conservative literary interests, even though a broad view of his entire career would show how deftly he worked in many different cultural and national traditions.”58 In a sharply argued analysis of Said’s place in American studies, he makes the case that Said’s own form of “worldly” cosmopolitanism represented an essentially American modernist outlook: “it has very strong roots both on the myth of American selfhood criticized effectively by the American myth critics and in American expatriates’ careful cultivation of their ‘otherness’ abroad.”59 Others, taking a more critical stance, have suggested that Said’s cosmopolitanism absorbed the lessons of Eurocentrism even while he made his career criticizing the structures of Orientalist discourse.60
It is certainly true that Said’s later writings on music—and even more strongly, his forays into political music-making with Barenboim—claim a universalist and even a civilizing role for Western classical music. Such a position would seem to support the view presented by many of Said’s critics that despite his critiques of European imperialism and his tireless advocacy for the Palestinian cause, his civilizational framework remained essentially Eurocentric. However, this closer investigation of his musical writings and activities suggests something different: that in his later years, his definitions of cosmopolitanism, with the achievements of the Western classical music canon at their center, derived not from an Anglo-American elite frame of reference as from a memory of the lost world of a specific mobile Levantine cosmopolitan class, already fading by the 1940s and completely gone as a political force from Palestine after 1948 and Egypt after 1952. Nostalgia for this transnational Arab society, marked by a polyglot linguistic and cultural knowledge and an amateur-level mastery of various forms of European high culture alongside an ironic and critical distance from European practices of imperial power, is at the root of Said’s highly emotional writings on music and served as the backbone for many of his ideas about the role of the intellectual in society.
Said’s imagining of Western classical music as a universalist, autonomous, self-sufficient art form that could serve as a cultural space for working out political conflict reflected a nostalgia for this local Arab cosmopolitanism and a desire somehow to recreate the sophisticated transnational milieu of interwar Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine in the contemporary Middle East. Such visions of a lost cosmopolitan Middle East strongly recall the writings of other exiled Arab elites of his generation—for instance, Sami Zubaida, who wrote longingly of precisely this form of local Arab cosmopolitanism overwhelmed by the provincializing effects of globalization:
Cosmopolitanism in the Middle East, in the old-fashioned sense of communally deracinated and culturally promiscuous groups and milieux . . . [have been submerged by] a proletarianized, poorly educated intelligentsia, poor and resentful, directing its ‘re-sentiment’ against the Westernized elites, seen as the agents of cultural invasion. These are the main cadres of nationalist and religious xenophobia, currently so powerful in the region. . . . It is not surprising, therefore, that the main cultural flourishing of Middle Eastern cosmopolitanism now occurs in London and Paris.61
Said’s collaboration with Barenboim, who shared his elite, transnational family background,62 built on precisely this nostalgia for a cosmopolitan Middle East in which Western classical music could serve as the central representation of shared elite aesthetic, social, and cultural practices.63
Said’s vision of a lost Arab cosmopolitan past has drawn fire from both historians and critics. Critics like Timothy Brennan and Aijaz Ahmad accused Said of an essentially Eurocentric view of cosmopolitanism, and pointed out the ways in which it coexisted uncomfortably with his commitment to the political specificities of the Palestinian national cause.64 Some historians also pilloried such visions of a past local cosmopolitanism as little more than a romanticized reimagining of wealth and secularism, with little or no relevance to most Egyptian and Palestinian lives. As Will Hanley put it, “Without better truth-claims than [Tunisian filmmaker Ferid] Boughedir’s fantasy or obscure exceptions, like Cairo’s hard-drinking, Bartok-loving elite of the 1930s, Middle East cosmopolitanism remains an obscure fantasy.”65
Said’s musical projects, though, allow for a more nuanced understanding of this cosmopolitan vision. Unlike the figures to whom he was often compared (Rushdie, Wolcott, Naipaul, Appiah), 66 Said’s cosmopolitanism was not a globalizing aesthetic based in an experience of elite migration; it was something much more historically and culturally specific, arising less from his individual experience of exile or the broader Palestinian experience of dislocation than from the pre-nakba dispersal and disappearance of the Levantine classes to which his family belonged. In this context, the question of the universality of Western classical music came to represent a much bigger argument about local cosmopolitanism and cultural authenticity.
On the one hand, the amateur practice of European high culture within this class subjected its members to accusations of colonial collaboration and an essentially inauthentic cultural life; such definitions of authenticity directly contributed to the dissolution of Said’s social and political circles in the 1930s and 1940s. On the other, among some intellectuals, this cosmopolitan class began to emerge as representative of an “authentic” pluralism that represented the “real” Middle East before the pressures of nationalism and statehood created the artificial and often violently maintained enclaves of the later twentieth century. As Roel Meijer has put it,
During the Ottoman period, the Middle East was an open undefined territory in which groups of different religious and ethnic backgrounds intermingled and exchanged ideas and lifestyles. Cosmopolitanist cities—Alexandria, Istanbul and Beirut—formed freehavens for cultural exchange. . . . [But] ever since the balance of power slipped to the advantage of Europe, . . . the existence of a ruling elite of bureaucrats, large landowners and businessmen who were as conversant in their own culture as in that of Europe only further discredited cosmopolitanism.67
In such readings, cosmopolitan Levantine elites represented the original, “authentic” Middle East before an externally imposed, violently insular nationalism took hold in the colonial and postcolonial periods.
In his musical commentaries, Said tried desperately to render this fraught question of cultural authenticity meaningless. His arguments for the universality of Western classical music and his promotion of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra proposed a model of simultaneous Arab and Western participation in what he pitched as a secular project of universal human civilization—a vision that owed its central assumptions not to Said’s long exile in the West, but to an abiding nostalgia for the social and cultural particulars of his boyhood and adolescence among the now-scattered urban sophisticates of Arab Cairo.
The author would like to thank Hillary Jenks, James Grehan, and Tam Rankin, as well as the readers and editors for Mashriq & Mahjar, for their astute and helpful comments on earlier iterations of this essay.↩︎
Christopher Hitchens, ”A Valediction for Edward Said,” Slate, 26 September 2003, http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/obit/2003/09/edward_said.html.↩︎
Edward Said, Musical Elaborations (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).↩︎
Edward Said, Music at the Limits (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008) and On Late Style: Music and Literature Against the Grain (New York: Pantheon Books, 2006).↩︎
Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said, Parallels and Paradoxes: Explorations in Music and Society (New York: Vintage Books, 2004); Edward Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004); Reflections on Exile and Other Essays (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000); The World, the Text, and the Critic (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1983); and Out of Place: A Memoir (New York: Knopf, 1999).↩︎
Rod Usher, “Hearts and Minds,” Time Europe Magazine, 25 August 2002, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,340702,00.html.↩︎
On the rise of the Arab middle class in the interwar Middle East, see especially Keith Watenpaugh, Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006).↩︎
Kwame Anthony Appiah, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers (New York: Norton, 2007).↩︎
It is important to note, of course, that much of this commentary was explicitly intended to discredit Said’s political activity on behalf of the Palestinian cause by questioning his authenticity as a Palestinian. See, for instance, Justus Reid Weiner’s “‘My Beautiful Old House’ and Other Fabrications by Edward Said,” Commentary 108, 2 (1999): 23–31. However, it is also true that Said never laid out a specific timeline of his childhood, either in his memoir or elsewhere, so it is not certain precisely how his childhood was divided between Jerusalem and Cairo.↩︎
Barenboim and Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, iv.↩︎
The opening of the Cairo Opera House celebrated the simultaneous opening of the Suez Canal. Initially, Verdi’s Aida was scheduled, but the composer did not finish the score in time and Rigoletto was performed instead.↩︎
Selim Sednaoui, “Western Classical Music in Umm Kulthum’s Country,” in Images of Enchantment: Visual and Performing Arts of the Middle East, ed. Sherifa Zuhur (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 1998), 124.↩︎
Jean Makdisi, Teta, Mother and Me: An Arab Woman’s Memoir (London: Saqi, 2004), 77.↩︎
Sednaoui, “Western Classical Music,” 125.↩︎
This was the Violin of Zion society, founded in Jaffa in 1904; Hashkafa, 1908, cited in Rachel Beckles Willson, Orientalism and Musical Mission (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2013), 125.↩︎
Beckles Willson, Orientalism and Musical Mission, 129–30.↩︎
For a thorough account of the role of such institutions in the cultural life of the Yishuv, see especially Jehoash Hirshberg, Music in the Jewish Community of Palestine 1880–1948: A Social History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995).↩︎
Ellen Fleischmann, The Nation and its “New” Women: The Palestinian Women's Movement, 1920–1948 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 46; see also Nancy Stockdale, Colonial Encounters among English and Palestinian Women, 1800–1948 (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2007), 114.↩︎
Mona Hajjar Halaby, “School Days in Mandate Jerusalem at Dames de Sion,” Jerusalem Quarterly 31 (2007): 49. Most of the recent explorations of the educational systems in Palestine and Egypt focus on women’s education; relatively little has been written on the nature of elite education for men in either place.↩︎
On radio in mandate Palestine, see especially Andrea Stanton, This is Jerusalem Calling: State Radio in Mandate Palestine (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2013).↩︎
Barenboim and Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, 16.↩︎
Beckles Willson, Orientalism and Musical Mission, 177–78.↩︎
On the colonial enforcement of sectarian divisions in mandate Palestine, see especially Rashid Khalidi, Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), and Laura Robson, Colonialism and Christianity in Mandate Palestine (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011).↩︎
Said, Musical Elaborations, 16–17.↩︎
Allen Evans, Ignaz Friedman: Romantic Master Pianist (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009), 234.↩︎
Evans, Ignaz Friedman, 234.↩︎
Interview with Dr. Stephen Papastephanou, in Evans, Ignaz Friedman, 242.↩︎
Said, Out of Place, 195. The term “Shawam,” which comes from al-Sham, the historical term for greater Syria, refers to the mostly merchant classes of Syrian/Lebanese origin living and working in Egypt during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.↩︎
Samir Ra’afat, “Ignace Tiegerman, 1893–1968: Would He Have Dethroned Horowitz?” Egyptian Mail (Cairo), 20 September 1997.↩︎
Said, Music at the Limits, 197.↩︎
Barenboim and Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, 39–40. Demonstrating his discomfort with this still-nascent idea, Said went on to describe this distance between music and its social and cultural context as “a very troubling thing.”↩︎
Said, Music at the Limits, 308–9.↩︎
Edward Said, “Farewell to Tahia,” Al-Ahram, 7–13 October 1999.↩︎
Said, Musical Elaborations, 98.↩︎
Charles Glass and Edward Said, The Last Interview (Brooklyn, NY: First Run/Icarus Films, 2004).↩︎
See Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (New York: Knopf, 1993), xiii.↩︎
Said, Musical Elaborations, 101–2. Sonata form—following a theme through an exposition, development, and recapitulation—characterizes much eighteenth- and nineteenth-century symphonic, chamber, and solo music; contrapuntal forms like fugues and canons, in which independent melodic voices play out against each other, are associated with both pre- and post-Romantic musical traditions.↩︎
Said, Musical Elaborations, 105.↩︎
Said, Music at the Limits, 259.↩︎
The orchestra was named after a collection of Goethe poems inspired by the Persian poet Hafez, which Said and Barenboim cited as an example of mutually beneficial cultural exchange.↩︎
Avi Shlaim, “Edward Said and the Palestine Question,” in Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation, ed. Adel Iskandar and Hakem Rustom (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010), 288.↩︎
http://www.west-eastern-divan.org/the-orchestra/the-orchestra/ , accessed 18 March 2013.↩︎
Barenboim and Said, Parallels and Paradoxes, 9–10.↩︎
Said speech at SOAS in 2003, cited in Mariam Said, “Contrapuntal Perspectives,” in Counterpoints: Edward Said’s Legacy, ed. Mayy Talmisani and Stephanie Tara Schwartz (Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars, 2010), xiii.↩︎
Rachel Beckles Willson, “The Parallax Worlds of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,” Journal of the Royal Musical Association 134, 2 (2009): 324, 331, points out that the Spanish players were expected to play the same role as the repertoire itself in providing a “neutral” ground for the other participants.↩︎
This was not without some risk to the players themselves; in fact, many of their names were not made public out of fear of repercussions in their home countries. See Beckles Willson, “Parallax Worlds,” 324.↩︎
Paul Zmaczy with the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra/Daniel Barenboim, Knowledge is the Beginning: The Ramallah Concert (EuroArts Music International and Warner, 2005).↩︎
Beckles Willson, “Parallax Worlds,” 326.↩︎
Interview with “Talib Zaki” in Elena Cheah, An Orchestra Beyond Borders: Voices of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra (London: Verso, 2009), 223.↩︎
Interview with “Yasmin of Palestine” in Cheah, An Orchestra Beyond Borders, 260.↩︎
Beckles Willson, “Parallax Worlds,” 331–32.↩︎
Interview with “Yuval” in Cheah, An Orchestra Beyond Borders, 127.↩︎
Ben Etherington, “Instrumentalising Musical Ethics: Edward Said and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra,” Australasian Music Research 9 (2007): 127.↩︎
Anthony Tommasini, “Stirring Music for a Stormy World: A Symphonic Bridge to Understanding,” New York Times, 4 February 2013, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/arts/music/west-eastern-divan-orchestra-at-carnegie-hall.html?_r=0.↩︎
Alex Ross, “Border Crossings: East Meets West at Carnegie Hall,” New Yorker, 4 March 2013, 78–79.↩︎
Rod Usher, “Hearts and Minds,” Time Europe Magazine, 25 August 2002, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,340702,00.html.↩︎
John Carlos Rowe, “Edward Said and American Studies,” American Quarterly 56, 1 (2004): 35.↩︎
Rowe, “Edward Said and American Studies,” 40.↩︎
The most famous exponent of this view is Ahmad, In Theory.↩︎
Sami Zubaida, “Middle Eastern Experiences of Cosmopolitanism,” in Conceiving Cosmopolitanism: Theory, Context and Practice, ed. Steven Vertovec and Robin Cohen (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 41↩︎
Barenboim grew up in a Russian Jewish family living in Buenos Aires, immigrated to Israel as a child, and is a citizen of Argentina, Israel, and Spain. In the aftermath of the orchestra’s concert in Ramallah, Barenboim was also awarded Palestinian citizenship with the assistance of former Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouti.↩︎
For a valuable non-Middle Eastern point of comparison, and a suggestion that such cosmopolitan nostalgia might be a central aspect of the era of globalization, see Svetlana Boym, The Future of Nostalgia (New York: Basic Books, 2001).↩︎
See especially Timothy Brennan, “Cosmopolitanisms and celebrities,” Race & Class 31, 1 (1989): 1–19, and Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literature (London: Verso, 1992). Brennan notes that the figures who emerge as “cosmopolitan” representatives align with a specific aesthetic deemed marketable in the West, and that other postcolonial figures who do not attempt this kind of aesthetic crossover remain primarily within their national markets.↩︎
Will Hanley, “Grieving Cosmopolitanism in Middle East Studies,” History Compass 6, 5 (2008): 1350.↩︎
See, for instance, Danuta Fjellestad, “Writing Affiliation And Dislocation In The Memoirs Of Ihab Hassan And Edward Said,” Prose Studies: History, Theory, Criticism, 31: 3 (2009): 202–13, and Joan Cocks, “A New Cosmopolitanism? V.S. Naipaul and Edward Said,” Constellations 7, 1 (2000): 47–63.↩︎
See Roel Meijer, ed., introduction to Cosmopolitanism, Identity and Authenticity in the Middle East (Richmond, Surrey: Curzon Press, 199), 1–2. It is worth noting that this vision has come under fire from other historians who view it as an elite romanticization; see, for instance, Hanley’s “Grieving Cosmopolitanism in Middle East Studies.”↩︎