Since the publication of Orientalism in 1978, Edward Said has become an intellectual cause célèbre and, in some quarters, subversive forces have disavowed such a scholarship. Articles and monographs on his work continue to be written, from a variety of positions. Part of this furore involves renewed efforts to locate in his work a moral and humanistic epistemological stance that would balance the relationship between the post-colonial (peripheral) world and the Western canonical tradition as informed by Said's later works. This article engages with Said as the author of a radically secular body of work marked by as comportment towards being, and as an example of an “amateur” critic who “speak[s] truth to power”. It argues that Said instates a critically-interrogative epistemology as antidote to essentialist, politicised, determinist and hegemonic approaches to “reality” and meanings, which are paradigmatically informed by colonialist assumptions. While his theories have been pursued in myriad directions, Said's underlying epistemology remains a strikingly under-researched area. The article thus traces the trajectory of Said's epistemological stance, and argues that the seemingly embryonic nature of his theories is, in fact, rigorous, incremental and systematic in presenting the case for a humanist epistemology of Diaspora. It argues against the view that Said has moved from diagnosing Orientalism (as an essentialised and ideologically-laden project) to espousing Humanism (as a move to the ‘Occident’), and shows that Said's theoretical ardency is consistent and uninterrupted. To trace Said's theoretical trajectory is to rethink the post-colonial consciousness, by revising fundamental epistemic issues in recent interpretations of post-colonial theory and its relation to humanism and diaspora.

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