Edward Said Mural is unveiled at Cesar Chavez Student Center at San Francisco State University on November 2nd 2007. This is the first mural of its kind to be unveiled at any American University.
Professor Edward Said (1935-2003)
Edward Said was a Palestinian Arab-American academic, educator, writer, philosopher, thinker, scholar, civil and human rights activist. His writing is an inspiration for Arab Americans. His activism for human rights, justice, and a peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is also an inspiration to millions of people around the world. He was one of the greatest thinkers and scholars of America in the 20th century because he broke down the stereotypes of Orientalists that have been perpetuated for hundreds of years. Said is wearing a Palestinian headdress or scarf (Kuffiyya, or Hatta), which is a cultural garment that has come to symbolize the struggle in maintaining and preserving Palestinian identity.
The City of Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the birthplace of Edward Said, and its representation on the mural through its landscape and monuments complements the poem. Jerusalem represents the genesis of Said’s thought. Since Said was born and lived in Jerusalem, his earliest experiences and hence his thought process were influenced by Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Folkloric Dance and Students Activism
Debka is a traditional, folkloric Arab dance. Palestinian Debka is a non-violent form of resistance and preservation of Palestinian culture and heritage. It is presented on the mural to bring attention to the rich culture of the Palestinian people, and performed by students at San Francisco State University in the Malcolm X Plaza wearing traditional Palestinian clothing. One of the women dancers is holding a Palestinian flag. The presence of Palestinian women pays homage to the matriarch responsible for maintaining and preserving Palestinian life and culture. Palestinian women play an integral part in Palestinian life, society, resistance to occupation, and in the struggle for human rights through mobilization and education.
Edward Said’s Books
Edward Said’s scholarly work and his contributions to academia are imperative to and have influenced such fields as literary studies, comparative literature, area studies (specifically the Middle East/ the Arab world/ Islamic world), anthropology, political science, comparative religion, and music. Books represented include: The Question of Palestine, Orientalism, and Covering Islam.
Poem honouring Edward Said in traditional Arabic Calligraphy
Mahmoud Darwish is a well-known Palestinian poet and a personal friend of Edward Said. He wrote a farewell poem in Arabic dedicated to Said in 2003. For the mural, we are selecting a verse of the poem that reads: ana min hunaak, ana min huna, which translates to: I am from there, I am from here. The selection of this poem serves many purposes: it recognizes Said’s identity as an Arab-American and reflects the identities of others in the diaspora. Arabic calligraphy, with many styles, is an art that has been used to decorate architectural monuments, manuscripts, and objects of daily life for over 1,400 years. The Arabic poem noted above will be rendered in an artistic form to enhance the Arab and Eastern influence of the mural.
Poem honouring Edward Said - English Translation
Cactus trees (Sabr in Arabic) which has a double meaning, of cactus pears and patience. They represent Palestinian people’s desire for peace and patience waiting for it. It is a resilient plant and part of the landscape of Palestine.
The dove is the universal symbol of peace and represents the Palestinian desire for a peace for all people. Two doves are rendered in Arabic calligraphy using the word “Salam” which is Peace in Arabic...