[P4880] Tanzimat as Translation

Created by Melih Levi
Sunday, 11/19/17 10:30am


This panel explores 'translation' as a methodology deployed by Tanzimat novelists engaged in exploring ideas of modernity and of generating new ideas of citizenship and subjectivity. Conceiving of the Tanzimat period as one of translation allows the discussion to move from a linear one of non-Western 'response' to the West, to a three-dimensional set of largely contemporaneous conversations in multiple directions. Such an approach foregrounds the dynamics internal to the debates themselves as well as the connections between different nexuses of conversations, as 'connected histories.'

Translation typically denotes as its object textual and cultural contexts with a particular directionality of moving from one to another, but here the project is to refocus ways in which Translation operates not simply between cultures or languages, but within them. We seek to explore ways in which Tanzimat authors 'translated' ideas across time and tradition, emerging, differently conceived, as new patterns of thought, of new epistemologies, and methodologies, but without the distortion inherent in denying their complex genealogies. Translation also avoids the pitfall of assuming that the modern is what it claims to be: a rupture, a departure, a denunciation of the past in its framing of its binary, 'traditional.' It instead facilitates visibility of continuities and recastings.

Our concept of 'translation', unsettles the relationship between sign and structure, as the interaction of various scripts makes demands on new modes of textual production and reading, undermining the conception of cultural contact as encounter between binaries and consolidating, instead, the conception of culture as assemblage, demanding a focus on questions of agency rather than of ownership.

Papers closely observe the project of modernity as Tanzimat novelists themselves viewed it, and privilege an exploration of their terms of engagement, their solutions, and intentions. Paper 1 examines authorial intention in the creation of literary techniques that structure new subjectivities of participatory reading and citizenship. Paper 2 explores the intersection of the choices made in translation as a way to investigate translators as agents of innovation. Paper 3 focuses on ways in which translation serves as trans/scription as authors experiment with and integrate a variety of new scripts into production. Paper 4 examines ways in which moments of rejection of both western and existing Ottoman norms suggest methodologies of legitimizing innovation. Collectively, the panels suggest how Tanzimat authors, and reformists more generally, negotiated translation as a means of innovation and creativity in their construction of an Ottoman modern.





A. Holly Shissler

(University of Chicago)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Monica Ringer

(Amherst College)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair; Presenter;

Burcu Karahan

(Stanford University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Etienne Charriere

(Bilkent University-Ankara)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Melih Levi

(Stanford University)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;