The 2016 Edward W. Said London Lecture – Let Them Drown: The Violence of Othering in a Warming World
4/05/16 7:30 pm
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Naomi Klein gave this year’s lecture in memory of Edward Said. Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and author of the critically acclaimed international bestsellers The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism; No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies; and This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate which was one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of the Year.
Edward Said was a giant in the study of “othering” – the process by which large swaths of humanity are cast as sub-human, a status used to justify violent expulsion, occupation, and invasion. The Edward W. Said London Lecture series gives his legacy a public platform in the very heart of cultural and intellectual life in the UK. This year’s lecture built on Said’s legacy to examine how these same tools of racial hierarchy, including Orientalism, have been the silent partners to climate change since the earliest days of the steam engine, continuing to present day decisions to let entire nations drown and others warm to lethal levels. The lecture looked at how Said’s bold universalist vision might form the basis for a response to climate change grounded in radical inclusion, belonging and restorative justice.
The lecture was introduced by Shami Chakrabarti. Shami Chakrabarti is Britain’s leading human rights campaigner. A lawyer, she is Chancellor of the University of Essex, Honorary Professor of Law at the University of Manchester, Honorary Fellow of Mansfield College, Oxford and a Master of the Bench of Middle Temple. Chakrabarti was Director of Liberty, the National Council for Civil Liberties from 2003 to 2016, and a member of the panel of the Leveson Inquiry, the judicial inquiry into UK phone hacking in 2011. She was awarded a CBE in 2007, was one of eight bearers of the Olympic Flag at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics and chaired the Baileys Prize for Womens’ Fiction in 2015. Her first book On Liberty, is published by Penguin.
In delivering this lecture Naomi Klein has followed in the footsteps of Marina Warner, Rashid Khalidi, Ahdaf Soueif, Noam Chomsky, Raja Shehadeh, and Daniel Barenboim in an annual event that is designed to emphasise the forward-looking nature of both Said’s work.
Mariam C Said, says “The ending paragraph in “Humanism and Democratic Criticism”, the last book Edward finished before he passed away, concludes: ‘ … with the thought that the intellectual’s provisional home is the domain of an exigent, resistant, intransigent art into which, alas, one can neither retreat nor search for solutions. But only in that precarious exilic realm can one first truly grasp the difficulty of what cannot be grasped and then go forth to try anyway’ Naomi Klein has definitely grasped the complex issue of our time “global warming” and has brilliantly articulated it to the world calling for action. She dares to challenge the powers that by fighting for a just world in which to make life on earth livable for all.”
The 2016 Edward W. Said London Lecture was presented by A.M. Qattan Foundation/ The Mosaic Rooms and Southbank Centre and London Review of Books.
The lecture took place at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre.