Eduardo Mendieta
Stony Brook University (USA)
Center for Cultural Studies at UC Santa Cruz


The article begins with a discussion of the methodological breakthrough made by Said in his magisterial Orientalism, which it is claimed also informed his subsequent works. He is defended against critics who impute on him with, and impugn him for, Foucauldian sins. Said is instead shown to be an innovative philosophical mind that confronted the methodological challenges of his project frontally and self-consciously. In a second part, the author considers the importance of Edward Said’s pioneering trope of Orientalism for the development of a unique form of Latin American criticism. While Roberto Retamar approximated the central ideas of Orientalism in his book Caliban, he did it with reference to a literary trope that partly concealed its critical usefulness. The next section discusses the ways in which a parallel discourse emerged during the later sixties and early seventies, namely Liberation Philosophy. Particular attention is given to the early work of Enrique Dussel and his agenda of a “geopolitics of philosophy.” The next stage of the development of the fertilization of Latin American critical discourses by Edward Said’s Orientalism work begins with the emergence of a trans-American Latino critical community that includes Fernando Coronil, Walter Mignolo, Santiago Castro-Gómez, and Ofelia Schutte. The overall aim is to chronicle, document, and underscore the ways in which Edward’s Said’s theses about Orientalism have productively influenced the emerge of a unique type of discourse that has been called “latinamericanism.”

Keywords: Edward Said, orientalism, latinamericanism, critical theory.