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UCL Mellon Programme: Interdisciplinary Seminar 2006-2007

Seminar: 6 December 2006 Professor Kamal Abu-Deeb, Department of the Languages and Cultures of Near and Middle East, SOAS, University of London. More ...

Abstract: Translation as an Act of Resistance

Translation has always been a multifaceted activity with multiple and often conflicting aims. But in all its manifestations, it is far from being an innocent act. It is entangled with ideology and power as well as aesthetics and the quest for knowledge. Cultures translate each other within a context of power and political interaction. It is not only what we translate, but also when we translate and how we translate that are sources of significance.

I shall focus in this seminar on the contexts of power in which translation involving Arabic and English (and in ancient times Greek, Arabic and the European Middle Ages) has often taken place then on translation, in the present historical context, as an act of resistance. I shall illuminate these aspects through some detailed discussion of my translation of Edward Said's work into Arabic (particularly Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism).

A certain degree of knowledge of Arabic will be very helpful for those attending the seminar in order to see the full significance of the details I shall be discussing, but those who know no Arabic will also be able to grasp the theoretical foundations of my presentation.

Biographical note: Professor Kamal Abu-Deeb holds the chair of Arabic Studies at SOAS. A leading scholar in Arabic literary criticism and culture, Abu-Deeb has written extensively on Arabic poetry and poetics and the critical discourse in the Arabic tradition. Abu-Deeb has won a number of research grants, the most recent of which is a Leverhulme fellowship for the study of the ideology, poetics and politics of the feminist discourse. Abu-Deeb translated into Arabic two of Edward Said’s most celebrated works: Orientalism and Culture and Imperialism. He founded and taught Arabic programmes in many universities, including Oxford , Columbia , Pennsylvania , Yarmouk, Damascus and San’aa.

This page last modified 26 September, 2012 by UCL Mellon Admin

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