Ideology Unveiled: Islamist Retranslations of the Western Classics

Posted by on Nisan 2, 2010 in Çeviribilim Kitapları

Esra Birkan Baydan’ın “Ideology Unveiled: Islamist Retranslations of the Western Classics” başlıklı çalışması, “LAP, Lambert Academic Publishing” tarafından yayımlandı (Mart, 2010). Baydan, bu kitapta Türkiye’de Batı klasiklerinin son dönemde sıkça görülen ideolojik çevirilerini inceliyor. Aşağıda kitabın tanıtımı, giriş kısmından bir alıntı ve içindekiler yer alıyor.

Ideology Unveiled: Islamist Retranslations of the Western Classics

Esra Birkan Baydan

The case presented in this book concerns the repercussions of the “Islamist” translations of the Western classics in Turkey. Islamist translations found extensive coverage in the Turkish press and thereby contributed to the visibility of the ideological nature of translation. Although translation is and always has been an ideological activity, this was the first time that “the manipulation at work” in translation was so clearly recognized in the Turkish public sphere. This was due to polarization situated along the axis of secularist and Islamist poles in the Turkish society. Ideology underlying the Islamist translations could only be deciphered within a polarized state of conflicting ideologies. Translation is thus viewed, in this book, as a site where ideologies meet and compete within the same society. The current political and social environment in Turkey, characterized by the secularist-Islamist struggle, is provided for the evaluation of the case from a wider perspective. The book also expands on the notions of cultural planning, power relations, ideology and visibility in Translation Studies. This case study should be of interest to translators and translation researchers, and anyone else who is interested in the visibility of Islam in the public domains.

from THE INTRODUCTION

The first chapter is an introduction to the case studied here. It poses the originating question of this study and significance of this case from the perspective of Translation Theory. My approach to this case and the theoretical framework which supports it are also defined in this chapter.

The second chapter deals with the definitions of ideology and arrives at the notion that “all of our thinking is ideological” based on Eagleton’s views. In this sense, language use is always inscribed by one’s own ideology. Thus, there can be no ideology-free translation. The expectancy of a translation with no bearing of ideology is a false one and, it can be interpreted as an expectation of a translation bearing one’s own ideology rather than “theirs”. By linking translational norms with ideology, I conclude that ideology in translation is only traceable if competing ideologies dictate separate translational norms.

The third chapter reviews the focus on ideology in translation studies in further detail and tackles the ideas of Levefere and Venuti to provide a theoretical framework for a discussion of the role of ideology in translation. The notions of power, ideology, institution, patronage and poetics elaborated by Lefevere in line with the systems-approach to literature borrowed from Russian Formalists draw our attention to the “manipulative” nature of translation whereas Venuti’s poststructuralist approach to translation enables us to view translation as a site of power relations which constitute and/or challenge the dominant cultural values and interests. Translation is always put in the service of various cultural, economic and political agendas. The underlying aims or interests in any act of translation are always ideological.

The fourth chapter deals with Even-Zohar and Toury’s ideas on culture planning, the means and ways of implementing a cultural repertoire and struggles for domination to gain a better understanding of “Islamic society engineering” – a term used to denote the cultural planning activities of the Islamists – and the power struggles in a polarized society. We observe two-way cultural planning in Turkey. There are attempts to spread the Islamist ideology to gain more power. There are also attempts to ensure the survival of the laicist ideology to sustain power. These two groups with conflicting ideologies strive to implement their own models to govern the organization of life in all aspects in order to obtain or sustain power. Translation, in this case, becomes the battleground of two conflicting ideologies.

The fifth chapter presents a literature review of what has already been said about the visibility of translation to display that this case study adds a new dimension. This issue is often approached from the opposite angle, i.e. the invisibility of translation. Translation scholars associate the invisibility of translation with its secondary status. Theoretically, this status emanates from the ideology of originality, which has been tackled in translation studies under the influence of postmodernism, poststructuralism and deconstruction. However, practically, translation is still an invisible practice and translation scholars suggest ways to overcome invisibility in practice.

The sixth chapter provides the political background of Turkey for the evaluation of the case and gives many examples of “Islamic society engineering”. The discussions around “100 Essential Readings” were in fact a continuation of an earlier power struggle between two groups who seem to be in constant conflict in Turkish society; namely, the Secularists and the Islamists. When we examine the discourse in the media around this issue we find that this situation is perceived as “polarization” in society. Therefore, I use the term “polarization” not as an essential reality but as a methodological tool which will enable us to analyze the case within a theoretical framework. Furthermore, it is important to note here that, polarization situated along the axis of secularist and Islamist poles, in this study, only reflects the political discourse to discuss its implications on the public discourse on translation, and the reactions concerning the ideological distortion in translation. This political discourse is aimed at creating the impression in the public that especially secularism is under the protection of certain circles such as the leading opposition party, military forces and the judicial members of the state. A further political discussion should be carried out within the theoretical framework of Political Science² as it exceeds both the aims of this study and my capabilities. I should also note that, quotations from the newspapers in this study are selected among those which reflect the populist political discourse for the same reasons mentioned above.  With these points in mind, for methodological reasons, we need to assume that one of the ideologies in this polarized state is the “dominant” one. The dominant ideology in this case would be secularism, since it is the formal ideology of the state and this is clearly stated in the Constitution. In this case, Islamist ideology would be the “reactionary” ideology. The fact that Islamist ideology is now backed economically, culturally and politically might have led to further polarization in society. Indeed, the polarization in society has been even more visible especially after AKP (Justice and Development Party), considered a moderate Islamist party, became the ruling party and CHP (Republican People’s Party), considered to be the defender of secularism, became the opposing party in the parliament in 2002. It was the first two-party parliament since 1954. This is mentioned here in order to emphasize the polarized state of Turkey. In fact, these were the only parties that gained seats in the parliament out of a total of 18 contenders. The rest of the parties failed to pass the 10 percent threshold – a remnant of the military coup of 1980 – to be eligible to gain parliamentary seats. Thus, it was an artificial two-party parliament and it did not reflect the totality of the votes.

The seventh chapter gives a review of the repercussions of the “Islamist” translations of the Western classics to reveal the discourse on translation in the public. The use of language in the translation of world classics is considered to be inscribed by an Islamist discourse and criticized as ideological distortion. Ideology is placed at the opposite end of the unbeatable notion of “faithfulness” – ideology being on the negative and faithfulness on the positive side. A comparison of the Islamist translations with their source texts is also provided in this chapter.

The final chapter presents the findings of this case study and its contribution to Translation Studies, with the expectation that a further discussion of ethics on this subject can be carried out from here onwards.

***

CONTENTS

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION

CHAPTER 2: IDEOLOGY

Ideological Distortion ………………………………………………………………………………….. 7

Translation: A Site of Ideological Encounters …………………………………………………  7

Linking Norms with Ideology ………………………………………………………………………… 8

Ideology: “Interested Discourse” …………………………………………………………………….9

CHAPTER 3: THE ROLE OF IDEOLOGY IN TRANSLATION

The Focus on Ideology in Translation Studies ……………………………………………… 11

André Lefevere ………………………………………………………………………………………..  14

Lawrence Venuti ………………………………………………………………………………………  18

CHAPTER 4: CULTURE PLANNING AS POWER STRUGGLE ……………………………….. 21

Certain Concepts in Culture Planning …………………………………………………………  21

Ways of Implementing a New Cultural Repertoire ………………………………………… 22

Conclusion and Critical Remarks ……………………………………………………………….  24

CHAPTER 5: THE IN/VISIBILITY OF TRANSLATION

The Secondary Status of Translation …………………………………………………………. 26

The Ideology of Originality ………………………………………………………………………..  28

The Implications of Postmodernism on Translation ………………………………………  29

Summary and Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………..   33

CHAPTER 6: THE “ISLAMIST” RETRANSLATIONS OF THE WESTERN CLASSICS

Political Background: A Polarized Society ………………………………………………  35

Examples of “Islamic Society Engineering” ………………………………………………….  39

CHAPTER 7: REPERCUSSIONS OF THE “ISLAMIST” TRANSLATIONS OF THE WESTERN CLASSICS

Objections to the Selection and Translation of the Western Classics ……………. 45

Repercussions in the Press ………………………………………………………………………  50

The Question of Ethics …………………………………………………………………………….. 54

Comparison of the Islamist Translations with Their Source Texts ………………   56

CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSION

REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………………………………. 64

APPENDIX : Ben de Namaz Kıldım (I Performed the Prayer Too) Cover Page ………   69

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Doç. Dr. Sâkine Eruz'un İstanbul Üniversitesi Çeviribilim Bölümü doktora öğrencileri Sibylla Wolfgarten, Dolunay Kumlu, Oktay Eser, Zuhal Karaca, Sinem Canım ve Özge Çelik'le birlikte yaptığı bir çalışma.

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