“What Does Translation Mean in the Age of Colonial Modernity?” 

Aria Fani, “What Does Translation Mean in the Age of Colonial Modernity?” In The Routledge Handbook of Persian Literary Translation, edited by Michelle Quay, Patricia Higgins, and Pouneh Shabani-Jadidi (2022), pp. 286-298.

The early twentieth century was a period of monumental cultural and social change in Persian-speaking lands. The proliferation of print culture and the rise of educational institutions set in motion a series of conceptual transformations  of such central ideas as farhang, tārikh, and adabiyāt, notions that defy self-evident and clear-cut translations. It is widely acknowledged that translation played a vital role in trafficking ideas and practices that constituted a new literary culture centered on the ethos of colonial modernity. Yet, the operative assumption has been that translation as a concept remained unchanged. As a result, we know extremely little about the peculiarities of early twentieth-century translation culture in Persian-speaking societies. How did late nineteenth and early twentieth-century intellectuals understand and think about translation as a conceptual category? Early twentieth-century Persian-language journals from Afghanistan and Iran provide a particularly rich case for such an inquiry. This chapter aims not only to reexamine common assumptions about translation and multilingualism in this period, but also to produce more robust categories of analysis.  

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