As a cultural critic, academic, and writer, Said is best known for the book Orientalism (1978), an analysis of the cultural representations that are the bases of Orientalism, a term he redefined to mean the Western study of Eastern cultures and, in general, the framework of how The West perceives and represents The East. He contended that Orientalist scholarship was, and remains, inextricably tied to the imperialist societies that produced it, which makes much of the work inherently political, servile to power, and therefore intellectually suspect. Orientalism is based upon Said's knowledge of colonial literature, literary theory, and post-structuralist theory. Orientalism, and his other thematically related works, proved influential in the fields of the humanities, especially in literary theory and in literary criticism. Orientalism proved especially influential upon the field of Middle Eastern studies, wherein it transformed the academic discourse of the field's practitioners, of how they examine, describe, and define the cultures of the Middle East. As a critic, he vigorously discussed and debated the cultural subjects comprised by Orientalism, especially as applied to and in the fields of history and area studies; nonetheless, some mainstream academics disagreed with Said's Orientalism thesis, most notably the Anglo–American Orientalist Bernard Lewis.
As a public intellectual, Said discussed contemporary politics and culture, literature and music in books, lectures, and articles. Drawing from his family experiences as Palestinian Christians in the Middle East at the time of the establishment of Israel in 1948, Said argued for the establishment of a Palestinian state, for equal political and human rights for the Palestinians in Israel–including the right of return—and for increased U.S. political pressure upon Israel to recognize, grant, and respect said rights. Moreover, he also criticized the political and cultural politics of the Arab and Muslim regimes who acted against the interests of their peoples. Intellectually active until the last months of his life, he died of leukemia in late 2003.
Humanism is the only - I would go so far as saying the final- resistance we have against the inhuman practices and injustices that disfigure human history.