Edward Wadie Saïd (1 November 1935 – 25 September 2003) was a Palestinian-American literary theoretician, University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and a public intellectual who was a founding figure of the critical field of post-colonialism. He was born a Palestinian Arab in the Jerusalem of the British Mandate of Palestine (1920–48); he was an American through his Palestinian Christian Arab father, Wadie Saïd, who was a U.S. citizen. As such, Saïd was an advocate for the political and human rights of the Palestinian people, whom the commentator Robert Fisk described as their most powerful voice.
As an an influential cultural critic, academic, and writer, Edward Saïd was known best for the book Orientalism (1978), a critical analysis of the ideas that are the bases of Orientalism — the Western study of Eastern cultures. He proposed and contended that Orientalist scholarship was, and remains, inextricably tied to the imperialist societies that produced it, making much of the work inherently political, servile to power, and therefore intellectually suspect. Orientalism is based upon his intimate knowledge of colonial literature, such as the fiction of Joseph Conrad, and the post-structuralist theories of Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and other such philosophers; thus, Orientalism, and other thematically related works, proved analytically influential in the fields of the humanities, especially literary theory and literary criticism. Moreover, Orientalism proved especially influential upon Middle Eastern studies, wherein it transformed the academic discourse of the field’s practitioners, of how they examine, describe, and define the cultures of the Middle East. As an intellectual, Edward Saïd vigorously discussed and debated the cultural subjects comprised by Orientalism, especially as applied in the fields of history and area studies; nonetheless, mainstream academics disagreed with Saïd’s thesis in Orientalism, especially Bernard Lewis, a British–American Orientalist.
1.) Edward Said: A Legacy of Emancipation and Representation. University of California Press. 2010. ISBN 978-0-520-24546-4. "Said was of Christian background, a confirmed agnostic, perhaps even an atheist, yet he had a rage for justice and a moral sensibility lacking in most believers."