I am neither there, nor here:An Analysis of Formulations of Post-Colonial Identity in the Work of Edward W. Said and Mahmoud DarwishA Thematic and Stylistic Analytical Approach

  • Suad Alenzi

Student thesis: Phd


This thesis examines the work of two of the twentieth century's foremost cultural figures, the Palestinian-American literary critic Edward Said (1935-2003) and the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish (1941-2008), and focuses specifically on the formulation and representation in their respective work of the theme of identity. It explores the depictions of this concept in their writing; comparing and contrasting their personal viewpoints on the various facets of their own identity as Palestinian Arabs and cosmopolitan global citizens expressed through their chosen literary medium, prose for Said and poetry for Darwish. At the same time, this analysis of the creative writing of these two authors will serve to shed light on the complex and ongoing process which is involved in identity formation and maintenance, and conceptualization of the self. Said and Darwish's multi-conceptualisations of self-identity take place in Chapter Three, which is divided into seven zones of self-identity. Their understanding of self-identity is observed through the spaces of their names, language, family relationships, friendships, ethnicities, nationalism, hybrid identities, and cosmopolitanism.The concept of post-Nakba and Naksa literature maps the critical developments in evaluations of Arabic literature and, more particularly, Palestinian literature. The understanding of Palestinian cultural context requires an adequate assimilation regarding the impact of Nakba and Naksa in Palestinian literature, linked strongly with the general impact of Nakba in all Arab literature. The thesis begins by establishing the major socio-political, cultural and historical contexts which shaped the lives and work of Said and Darwish. Then using an innovative theoretical framework which draws on elements of post-colonial theory Said's own contrapuntal technique and close textual analysis, the thesis explores a number of key facets pertaining to identity construction which it can be argued are of particular relevance to the Palestinian case. These include trauma, collective cultural memories, displacement, the Diasporic experience and the dream of return. At the same time, the thesis reveals how whilst both Said and Darwish remained dedicated to the Palestinian cause they adopted a cosmopolitan identity which was reflected in their respective work and its identification with diverse groups of oppressed peoples.
Date of Award1 Aug 2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorZahia Smail Salhi (Supervisor) & Ronald Buckley (Supervisor)


  • Edward Said- Mahmoud Darwish- Palestine- Palestinian identity- self-identity
  • cosmopolitanism- hybridity- displacement- Diaspora- trauma- memory.

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