The “Postcolonial” in Translation: Reading Said in Hebrew
In Remembrance
1935 - 2003

The essay focuses on the “travel” of various debates—orientalism, postcolonialism, postzionism—between the U.S. and Israel, between one institutional zone and political semantics and another. Through a comparative history of these critical intellectual debates, the author considers some key moments and issues in the “translation” of Said’s ideas into Hebrew. The reception of Said’s work is engaged in its contradictory dimensions, especially in liberal-leftist circles, where the desire to go-beyond-Said offers some ironic twists. The issues examined include: the nature of the “post” in the concepts of the “post-colonial” and “post-Zionism”; the problem of “hybridity” and “resistance” in the land of partitions and walls; and the mediation in Israel, via the Anglo-American academy, of the “subaltern” intellectual.


Ella Shohat is professor of Middle Eastern studies at New York University. Her books include Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation University of Texas Press, 1989), Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (MIT Press, 1998), Forbidden Reminiscences (Bimat Kedem, 2001), Unthinking Eurocentrism (coauthored) (Routledge, 1994), Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Perspectives coedited) (University of Minnesota Press, 1997), and ulticulturalism, Postcoloniality and Transnational Media (coedited) (Rutgers University Press, 2003). She wishes to thank Robert Stam, Yigal Nizri, Bashir Abu-Manneh, and Joseph Massad for their comments. Throughout, the translations from the Hebrew are her own.