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Disarming Words: European Empires, Native Intellectuals, and the Seductions of Translation in Egypt, 1798-1952
Shaden Tageldin, University of Minnesota

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Disarming Words: Empire and the Seductions of Translation in Egypt (Book) [show prizes]
Title: Disarming Words: Empire and the Seductions of Translation in Egypt
Author: Shaden M. Tageldin
Abstract: In a book that radically challenges conventional understandings of the dynamics of cultural imperialism, Shaden M. Tageldin unravels the complex relationship between translation and seduction in the colonial context. She examines the afterlives of two occupations of Egypt—by the French in 1798 and by the British in 1882—in a rich comparative analysis of acts, fictions, and theories that translated the European into the Egyptian, the Arab, or the Muslim. Tageldin finds that the encounter with European Orientalism often invited colonized Egyptians to imagine themselves “equal” to or even “masters” of their colonizers, and thus, paradoxically, to translate themselves toward—virtually into—the European. Moving beyond the domination/resistance binary that continues to govern understandings of colonial history, Tageldin redefines cultural imperialism as a politics of translational seduction, a politics that lures the colonized to seek power through empire rather than against it, thereby repressing its inherent inequalities. She considers, among others, the interplays of Napoleon and Hasan al-'Attar; Rifa'a al-Tahtawi, Silvestre de Sacy, and Joseph Agoub; Cromer, 'Ali Mubarak, Muhammad al-Siba'i, and Thomas Carlyle; Ibrahim 'Abd al-Qadir al-Mazini, Muhammad Husayn Haykal, and Ahmad Hasan al-Zayyat; and Salama Musa, G. Elliot Smith, Naguib Mahfouz, and Lawrence Durrell. In conversation with new work on translation, comparative literature, imperialism, and nationalism, Tageldin engages postcolonial and poststructuralist theorists from Frantz Fanon, Edward Said, and Gayatri Spivak to Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Emile Benveniste, and Jacques Derrida.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: UC Press book website
Secondary URL:
Secondary URL Description: WorldCat entry
Publisher: University of California Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780520265523
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes

Secularizing Islam: Carlyle, al-Siba'i, and the Translations of “Religion” in British Egypt (Article) [show prizes]
Title: Secularizing Islam: Carlyle, al-Siba'i, and the Translations of “Religion” in British Egypt
Author: Shaden M. Tageldin
Abstract: Secularism is said to support cultural imperialism by propagating the colonizer’s religion in nonreligious guise or by touting a nonreligious worldview that attracts native intellectuals already disenchanted with local tradition. I take a different view. Reading Muhammad al-Siba'i’s Arabic translation of Thomas Carlyle’s _On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History_ (1841), published in Egypt in 1911, I argue that secularism attracts the colonized less by presenting itself as an alternative order—religious or not—than by validating an existing religious episteme, but doing so in translation, refracting native religion through an empowered yet seemingly empowering colonial eye. Secularity infiltrates British Egypt as Islam’s likeness, not antithesis. Carlyle’s alluring Islamophilia moves al-Siba'i to prescribe English literature to Egypt against French “unbelief,” eliding the Briton’s subordination of the Prophet Muhammad to Shakespeare. Willing the native Islamic “religious” into translatability with the Western colonial “secular,” al-Siba'i reconstructs modern Islam as belief in the human.
Year: 2011
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: MLA Journals PMLA website
Access Model: Subscription only
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: PMLA
Publisher: Modern Language Association