Between Two NeighborhoodsFree!
Palestinian Intellectuals Discuss Politics and Ethics of Translation
On a warm spring evening, a group of Arab and Palestinian intellectuals gathered in the old city of Nazareth. Invited by the Maktoob series, they discussed the issue of translating literary works from Arabic into Hebrew, while trying to provide answers to many questions that have long perplexed Palestinian authors particularly, as well as Arab authors in general. The Maktoob series seeks to deepen its understanding of this issue to develop its work method, as the questions mentioned relate to the political and cultural implications of the act of translation between these two languages, in the shadow of the continuing struggle and colonialism.
Historically, how were the policies of translation from Arabic to Hebrew formed? What efforts were made to go beyond these policies? Why did they stop? Is translating into Hebrew considered to be cultural normalization with Israel, or is it an Orientalist action? Could it be an act of resisting racism and colonialism? Is there a relationship between the previous question and what we translate and how we produce the translation?
The Art of RhetoricFree!
What Is Anticolonial Translation? The Form and Content of Binational Resistance in Maktoob
This essay examines translation as an anticolonial literary form in the context of contemporary translation theory and activist translation practices in Palestine/Israel. Analyzing the impact of colonial paradigms on language, culture, and translation, it demonstrates that Arabic-to-Hebrew translation practices have been used to both instantiate and challenge existing colonial structures. With a focus onMaktoob, the first Palestinian-Jewish translation collective, it goes on to analyze the methods used by progressive translation groups to resist racism, occupation, and colonialism and to democratize the Israeli cultural sphere over the past seventy years. It argues that Maktoob’s unique contribution to this tradition emerges from its commitment to a systemic decolonization of the processes surrounding translation. Binational, bilingual translation, the collective’s working model, combines content-based approaches with formal, linguistic, and structural innovations in translation processes. The explicit aim of this model is to erode colonial effects such as Orientalism, cultural erasure, ethnoseparatism, literary theft, and the linguistic division between Arabic and Hebrew, and to establish a model that promotes democratic cultural participation among Jews and Palestinians. The essay demonstrates the continued influence of cultural decolonization on contemporary literary production and offers new insights into what this means for translation theory and practice.
Guest Editors’ Note: From the Neoclassical to the Binational Model of Translation
Literary translation—whether a branch within comparative literature, linguistics, hermeneutics, or elsewhere in the academic disciplinary maze—has grown and developed mainly in accordance with the European neoclassical tradition. The previous issue of JLS was dedicated to the critique of the neoclassical model’s supposed transparency and impartial representation of the original source, allegedly trying to reach a “fluent” translation of the original.
To cope with translation from Arabic to Hebrew under the conditions of the present time, the Translators’ Circle in Maktoob proposes a pragmatic model of translation that transcends the comfort zone and is open to negotiation and a dialogical process of movement and wrestling in a dynamic relationship of dialogue. Although the model is fraught with practical, economic, and empirical difficulties, and is not necessarily pragmatic, it relies on the philosophy of pragmatism, according to which translation is not only a textual achievement but also action in the real world, which seeks to overcome the elements of alienation and degeneration of the individual, nationalistic portrait of translation. The translation turns from a metatext, which is placed behind the text and whose function is to explain and illuminate, into a social text, as a basis for communication and for expression of collective consciousness. In other words, and paraphrasing Ferdinand de Saussure’s notion that language should be studied in and for itself, we argue that translation is not only a thing in and for and of itself but also a communication tool, a byproduct of a comprehensive political process. To this end it expands the concept of intertextuality from hermeneutics to sociology. That is, intertextuality is not just an encounter between textual units, as is commonly the case in the fields of hermeneutics, linguistics, and literature, but also an interactive sociological mechanism based on encounter and reciprocity between people.
Deterritorialization of Belonging: Between Home and Unhomely in Miral al-Tahawy’s Brooklyn Heights and Salman Natur’s She, the Autumn, and Me
In this article, I argue that Mīrāl al-Ṭaḥāwī’s Brooklyn Heights (Brūklīn Hāyts, 2010) and Salmān Nāṭūr’s She, the Autumn and Me (Hiya, Anā, wa-l-Kharīf, 2011) call into question the very fixedness of the concepts of “homeland” and “diaspora/abroad,” and obscure the distinction between the indigene and the relocated diasporic subject. She, the Autumn and Me (Hiya, Anā, wa-l-Kharīf, 2011) is the most recent novel by Palestinian Israeli writer Salmān Nāṭūr (b. 1949), a seasoned writer of short stories, novels and critical writings. Brooklyn Heights is the fourth and most recent novel of the Egyptian Bedouin Mīrāl al-Ṭaḥāwī (b. 1969), who stands out as the first Egyptian Bedouin woman to publish modern Arabic prose. Through their portrayal of characters who are outcasts or loners, these contemporary novels complicate and deconstruct axioms which imply a reciprocal association between homeland and belonging, on the one hand, and exile/diaspora and foreignness or estrangement, on the other. In this study, I interrogate portrayals of the homeland in both texts, as it is conceived through shades of belonging and foreignness; and how “abroad” is portrayed vis-à-vis an originary homeland, in layered diasporic terms, and yet also conflated with home and homeland.
Harbingers of Feminism: A New Look at the Works of Pioneering Palestinian Women Writers
This article brings to light the harbingers of the tradition of Palestinian women’s writing in a gendered reading of the works of two leading, post-1948 women writers, Samira ʿAzzam and Najwa Qaʿwar-Farah. The article examines why literary critics ignored the feminine dimension of these writers’ works, and saw them as imitating and adapting existing patterns and conventions of writing. The article shows, how both thematically and stylistically, these early writers highlighted their feminine presence and that of their heroines; to what extent they succeeded in imbuing their writing with feminist messages; and how they enabled later women writers by laying the foundations of a tradition of women’s literature.
The Forces of Presence and Absence : Aspects of Palestinian Identity Transformation in Israel between 1967 and 1987
This article examines Palestinian identity transformation in Israel during the years between 1967 and 1987. Fifteen Palestinian novels and autobiographies were published in Israel during this period. My article will focus on a group of five from among them that I call counteraction novels. Counteraction novels show the failure of the Zionist modernist paradigm—according to which modernization and integration of Palestinians in Israel are complementary processes—by reflecting a Palestinian distinction between modernism and Zionism. On the one hand, the novels reflect that Palestinians in Israel are grappling with issues posed to them by modernization. On the other hand, counteraction novels present a uniform rejection of Zionism’s erasure and alienation of Palestinians in Israel. I also argue that counteraction novels do not portray a “positive” Palestinian identity; they do not voice what Palestinian identity is.
- About JLS
- Vol. 9 No. 1 | Summer 2019
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