“States,” by Edward Said is an excerpt that is fro...
“States,” by Edward Said is an excerpt that is from a book
that he wrote; After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives. In a world where both
political analyses, as well as philosophical theory, are normally isolated by
means of institutional forces, Saids’ book regarding Palestine presents a
breath of fresh and precise air. The extent to which one understands
“the other” in Edward Said’s “States” in the Palestinian identity through
photographic representations is significant, as well as the struggles that he (Said)
experienced in defining what it is to be Palestinian and why it is very
difficult in representing the Palestinian identity.
Said uses written and photographic representations to help
the reader understand Palestinian identity in a moving way that most people
can’t. But the reader can only comprehend up to the extent what it is like to
live in a Palestinian’s shoes. “Let us use photographs and a text, we said to
each other, to say something that hasn’t been said about Palestinians. The
problem of writing about and representing – in all senses of the word –
Palestinians in some fresh way is part of a much larger problem” (Said 538).
One cannot explain the feeling or an experience. One may only comprehend it if
one has been personally affected by the incident. Everyone reacts in different
ways, which makes not one person alike. Therefore, the emotional outcomes will
“States” is a story concerning Palestine, which was once a
country, but is currently spread out into millions of pieces of the people who
once referred it as home. These pieces are memories of the period when
Palestinians may have been who they are, and not a spread out as well as a forgotten
people. They (Palestinians) all face a fresh struggle, which of finding out
what their identity is.
who we are, where we come from, what we are- is difficult to maintain in exile.
Most other people take their identity for granted. Not the Palestinian, who is
required to show proofs of identity more or less constantly" (546).
According to Said, Palestinians
represents a people who have no country, and as well who lack an identity. The
identity of Palestinians had been taken away from them, and until now they
have still made an effort to linger in their lost identity, regardless of
losing their land. During the time of the invasion of Palestinian land, the
industrial revolution had been successful in altering the identity of an individual
from one’s family and job to one’s country. Following the conclusion of the
industrial revolution, an individual became an Australian, an American, or a
Palestinian. This identity system by means of the country at first worked and
brought people together. However, in Palestine, as Said asserts, this union was
a hard attachment to break, and still following the fall of the nation, its
inhabitants still lined up as Palestinians.
Said embarks on the story by means of
describing the circumstances of the Palestinians, through pictures. Said's depiction
of his third photograph sums up his view,
at once it is our transience and impermanence that our visibility expresses,
for we can be seen as figures forced to push on to another house, village, or
region. Just as we once were taken from one "habitat" to a new one,
we can be moved again" (Said, 573).
He depicts them (Palestinians) as
people who do not have an identity. The Palestine nation was conquered which
compelled its’ people to escape into exile from Israel.
maxim that states “a picture is worth a thousand words” in fact proves to be
accurate in the pictures that Edward Said takes in the essay “States”.
Said artfully merges prose with pictures, up to a point where the two are
not distinct any longer and coalesce to form a shared existence. The
convincing argument that he puts up in his work, “States,” could not serve the
same purpose if it did not consist of the pictures. These pictures offer
substance as well as reality to the readers in relation to the difficulties
that many Palestinians face in their everyday life. To most
readers of “States,” it is easy to be detached from the problems that are
depicted in writing since the people in the story are far and very different
from the ones in the Western culture. However, when pictures of real
people are incorporated into the argument, the readers are highly likely to stumble
on some association to the people.
dreadfulness that Said present in relation to Palestine have the capacity of
hitting hard the emotions of the readers, not only through the use of
photographs to facilitate in supporting his argument, but as well since Said
had firsthand experience with the problems faced by the Palestinians because of
his Palestinian background. He is precisely aware of what his people are
going through and can communicate them faultlessly in his writing. Said
makes each emotion tangible and gives exceptional examples that
are relevant to a greater part of the Western culture. He
addresses ordinary stereotypes in the Middle East and after that counteract
them with the realism that most people whom he knows face on a daily basis.
In general, Said does an exceptional job of creating a candid image of
his society that offers an opposition to a stereotype that is portrayed in the
writes about personal experiences and uses detailed descriptions for his
photographs. A photograph may give you a setting to envision, but a photograph
is worth a thousand words. Said is a talented writer and excellent with
providing details, but others could find something to say about a photo that
hasn’t been already said. “At this point, no one writing about Palestine – and
indeed, no one going to Palestine: We have all been there before, whether by
reading about it, experiencing its millennial presence and power, or actually
living there for periods of time” (Said 539). In the contemporary society, we
are lucky to have books and cameras. It is amazing how we can glance into
other’s experiences and lives without being there.
words and images can be a great tool to represent the meaning of “the other”,
it is going to be a struggle. There is no exact recipe to define what it is to
be Palestinian. Palestinian Identity is too complex to be defined through photos
and text. In States you might find
yourself transported through the text. Almost as if you were there and for a
short while make you forget where you are and have empathy for those less fortunate
than us. Even if we put ourselves in their position, we know in actuality that
we are not them. We know that we live privileged lives and that we will never
know what they have gone through. We can learn their history, but we can’t feel
their pain, their suffering.
therefore, forms the negative characteristic of the Palestinian identity:
Palestinians are the people who have been expelled from a land, stripped off
their rights, prohibited from anti-racist considerations, as well as excluded
from the media’s coverage. These exclusions were conceivably more drastic when
Said penned down this book in 1979, but it is outstanding how excluded the
Palestinian point of view is from arguments on the Middle East in a typical
According to Said (557), the actual
concern of the Palestinians is that they do not have a country to unite with.
They are simply a scattered people who have no country. Said discusses many
examples where the Palestinians made an effort to unite under neighboring
nations like Syria, but all of these efforts bore no fruits as the
administrations of these nations turned against them.
that Said’s excerpt deals with, and which is by far very hard is who “the
Palestinians” are as well as what “Palestine” is. A central constituent of the
answer to this question is basically that Palestinians are a people inhabiting
a land, and a people who have been dislocated from a land, not being
acknowledged as rightfully tied to that land. In this sense, Palestinians are
component of a history of dislocation of native peoples by the settlers.
is difficult to represent Palestinian identity because there is so much
information to learn about them. “While there is much to learn about the
Palestinians, the people and their history, the opening moment in the
collaborative project is to learn to look and to read in the service of a
complex and nuanced act of understanding” (Said 539). Said struggles to define
their identity because it is not possible to explain who someone is. An identity
isn’t something that can be described. It is who you are, your being. All
Palestinians can’t be categorized under the one term, Palestinian identity.
Each Palestinian is different from another in their way. That is like saying,
“What is the meaning of Caucasian identity?” No two identities are identical.
conclusion, Said, in “the other” helps the readers in understanding the
Palestinian identity by means of photographs. This is because pictures have a
great influence in comparison to writing, but Edward Said incorporates the two
in making a story that is exceptional. However, even though the blend of
photographs and writing in the story is significant in facilitating the reader’s
understanding of this excerpt, Said still struggles in defining what it is to
be Palestinian. This is because of issues such as lack of a country to unite
the Palestinians and the fact that they are scattered. Nevertheless, he is
successful in making the reader in understanding the life that the Palestinians
experience in this modern society.