Edward Said and Michel Foucault: Representation of the Notion of Discourse in Colonial Discourse Theory

Document Type: Research Article


1 Department of English Language and Literature, Faculty of Letters and Humanities, Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz, Ahvaz, Iran

2 The Ohio State University, College of Arts and Sciences, Columbus, United States of America



Edward Said is regarded as the originator of colonial discourse theory. He deploys Michel Foucault’s notion of discourse to accomplish his project in Orientalism and emphasizes Foucault’s notion of discourse and its relation to power, rendering discourse a carceral system. Although Said explicitly expresses the similarity between Orientalism and Foucault’s discourse theory, it seems he implicitly suggests that the carceral quality of Foucault’s idea affects his formulation of Orientalism. This study examines the validity of Said’s understanding of Foucault and shows that Said’s construction of Orientalism is based on an imperfect image of Foucault. Argument here is to postulate that Foucault’s discourse theory provides space for resistance and his theorization of power helps the idea of struggle in discursive practices. Besides, Foucault himself is trapped in a discourse produced by Said. This study casts light on Foucault’s theory of discourse and modifies this misreading.


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