The Rhetoric of De-detachment and Collective Identity Politics in Edward Said’s Out of Place
Publication Type
Conference Paper

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 attachment. This paper argues that Said reassesses his attachments and collective identity politics, not by rejecting his filiations but by finding a way to reconstruct or retrieve them. 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, this paper illustrates that the national self emerges from the destabilisation of a unified, coherent subjectivity; it comes out of an “estrangement” and de-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 de-detachment allows Said to open himself to the deeply disorganised state of his real 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). As such, Said’s text, this paper argues, serves as a custodian of the Palestinian national history and its author or protagonist the vital ‘bearing witness’ to the dispossession and loss of the homeland which lay at the root of the bitter tragedy that has blighted all Palestinian lives (Hamdi, 2011).

Conference Title
Cultural Dialogue in Linguistics, Literature and Translation
Conference Country
Conference Date
Nov. 13, 2018 - Nov. 16, 2018
Conference Sponsor
Zarqa, Jordan