Pedagogies of Revolt: Translating Egypt in Flux
26 March 2015
Salle des thèses Bernard Maris, Espace Deleuze
Université Paris 8 – Vincennes-Saint-Denis
One of the most remarkable accomplishments of the revolutionary spirit in Egypt since January 2011 has manifested itself in an unprecedented production and proliferation of cultural materials, whether written, oral, visual, or performative, all of which have decidedly remapped and redefined not just the contours and meanings of both public culture and public space but more specifically, for the purposes of this symposium, the strategies, problems, limits, and challenges of translating this cultural production to a global audience.
Pedagogies of Revolt: Translating Egypt in Flux will explore issues of inter-semiotic and inter-cultural translation through collaborative projects by five graduate students (current and former) at the American University in Cairo whose work is published in two volumes edited by Samia Mehrez, Professor of Arabic Literature and Translation Studies at the American University in Cairo:Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir (AUC Press, 2012) and The Cultural Field in Egypt Post-January 11(co-edited with Mona Abaza; forthcoming AUC Press 2015).
The symposium will also explore pedagogical lessons that these collaborative initiatives have offered: from division of labor, decision-making and editing, to the participants’ awareness of the translator’s subjectivity, their appreciation of their difference and diversity, their thorough understanding of the interactive process of translation and their implication in an ethics of selection that foregrounds not just the question of the “visibility” of the translator but more importantly the politics of translation itself.
This symposium is organised by the Collaborative Translation project of the Labex Arts H2H with the participation of Paris 8 students from the Master of Translation and the Master of Média Culture 2 Langues (MC2L).
Organiser: Anthony Cordingley
9h30 – Welcoming of guests
9h50 – Symposium openning
10h00 – Pedagogies of Revolt: Translating Egypt in Flux
Discours plénière – Samia Mehrez (Université Américaine du Caire)
Translating Images: Disrupting Visuality on the Streets of Cairo
Lewis Sanders IV (Co-rédacteur en chef, www.importantcool.com )
Sanctioned Memory: Interpreting Contested Narratives
Laura Gribbon (Journaliste, www.madamasr.com)
Self-Translation and the Hybridity of Language
Alia Ayman (Université Américaine du Caire)
Transpositions: The Language of music and the Music of Language
Ammar Dajani (Université Américaine du Caire)
The Aesthetics of Subtitling: From Problematic Supplements to Indispensable Images
Mohammad Shawky Hasan (Université Américaine du Caire)
16h Coffee break
Round table with the participants
17h30 End of the symposium
Keynote Address: Pedagogies of Revolt: Translating Egypt in Flux
Samia Mehrez is Professor of Arabic Literature and Director of the Center for Translation Studies at the American University in Cairo. She has published widely in the fields of modern Arabic literature, postcolonial studies, translation studies, gender studies and cultural studies. She is the author of Egyptian Writers between History and Fiction: Essays on Naguib Mahfouz, Sonallah Ibrahim and Gamal al-Ghitani, AUC Press, 1994 and 2005 and Egypt’s Culture Wars: Politics and Practice, Routledge 2008, AUC Press 2010. Her edited anthologies A Literary Atlas of Cairo: One hundred Years in the Life of the City and The Literary Life of Cairo: One Hundred Years in the Heart of the City in which she translated the works of numerous Egyptian writers are published by AUC Press 2010, 2011 and in Arabic by Dar Al-Shorouk, Cairo. She is the editor of Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir, AUC Press, 2012. She has recently completed a translation from Arabic into English of Mona Prince’s memoir, Ismi Thawra (Revolution is My Name), AUC Press 2014 and is currently working on an edited volume tentatively titled The Cultural Field in Egypt Post January 2011 (co-editor Mona Abaza; forthcoming, AUC Press 2015).
Lewis Sanders IV: Translating Images: Disrupting Visuality on the Streets of Cairo
The street is filled with manifold images and visual economies that frame, subjugate, and unleash ideas to and through the spectator. Whether revolutionary street art or consumer ads, images on the street can make one question and desire, remember or yearn. But how can these images, most often situated in the culture they are constructed in, be translated from one language to another, from one space to another space? By collectively investigating and translating (at a linguistic and semiotic level) images taken from Cairo’s streets, it is hoped that the cultural artifacts undermining the mediation of seeing across borders will be placed at the forefront of translating.
Lewis Sanders IV is a multi-platform journalist and researcher based in Cairo, Egypt. He is the co-editor of ImportantCool, a digital magazine rooted in investigative journalism and radical transparency. Lewis has authored two chapters on street art and poetry from Egypt’s 2011 uprising in Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir, (AUC Press 2012). In 2013, he concluded a two-year research project on visuality and public space in Cairo entitled Reclaiming the Urban Experience: Cairo’s Street Art and its Discontents. He has spoken at academic conferences throughout Europe and the Middle East and continues to guest lecture on Egypt’s post-January 25 cultural scene at Rutgers University and City University of New York.
Laura Gribbon: Sanctioned Memory: Interpreting Contested Narratives
Who is authorized to remember when such discourse is perceived as patriotism or treason? The willful obfuscation of collective memory has rendered moments ambiguous and hard to interpret. We are allowed to remember, but only within the context of a current and future struggle; to participate politically, but only in elections; to mourn, but only for those who ‘died in service of the nation’. Laura will split participants into groups to examine and discuss various contested narratives of events and individuals – pictures and texts – from the last few years.
Laura Gribbon writes and edits for Cairo-based independent media collective Mada Masr. She completed her Masters in Middle East Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, in 2012, writing her thesis on the “ownership of Egypt’s political martyrs”. She has been based in Cairo on and off since January 9, 2011, when she studied a semester at the American University in Cairo and participated in a collective project led by Professor Samia Mehrez on “Translating Egypt’s Revolution”. She co-authored the chapter on “Signs and Signifiers: Visual Translations of Revolt,” Translating Egypt’s Revolution: The Language of Tahrir, ed. Samia Mehrez, (AUC Press, 2012).
Alia Ayman: Self-Translation and the Hybridity of Language
Alia will show her award-winning, short documentary, “Catharsis: A Self-Portrait.” She will speak about bilingualism in the film and the urgency of using two languages (Arabic and English) to translate contested notions of selfhood, identity, and hybridity. She will focus on problems of translation and equivalence related to culturally specific concepts in the film and how they travel into the target language and culture.
Alia Ayman is a filmmaker and curator at Zawya, the only art house cinema in Egypt. Alia’s film “Catharisis: A Self-Portrait” won a number of awards including the Jury Prize for best Short Film at the Ismailia International Film Festival, the Audience award at Beirut Short Film Festival, the second prize at the Arab Camera Film festival at Rotterdam. It has screened in France, Germany, Austria, and across the Arab world. The film was also invited to be part of a screening for Women’s shorts at the Netherlands Flemish Institute in Cairo. Alia is currently an MA candidate in the Department of SAPE (Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology, and Egyptology) at the American University in Cairo. She is the author of “Romanticized Ruptures: Revolution and Egyptian Cinema,” The Cultural Field in Egypt Post January 2011, eds. Mona Abaza and Samia Mehrez, (forthcoming, AUC Press, 2015).
Ammar Dajani: Translating Soundscapes: The Language of Music and the Music of Language
When the revolution broke on 25 January, 2011, it was independent and underground music that would be both voice and soundtrack of the revolution. Catalysed by the silence of the pop industry – its complacent and outdated lexicon unable to express the moment – the independent scene would break the surface and force its own lyrical and musical lexicon onto the mainstream, or at least into the sphere of public knowledge. This new lexicon would widen tastes, tackle more diverse and more critical subject matters, and would raise the bar on what is lyrically and musically accepted. It was this new lexicon that would translate the revolutionary moment into song. The locality of both the moments expressed and the language used to express them poses challenges to the translator, particularly in conveying the local moment to a receiver who did not live it. Specific examples of various translated versions of lyrics will be discussed to address questions of loss and gain as well as foreignization and domestication.
Ammar Dajani started out his corporate career as a bilingual copywriter in the advertising industry, where a large part of his work involved localising international campaigns, both linguistically and culturally. In 2001, he quit corporate work to found Cairo Jazz Club, the first venue dedicated to independent and underground music. He currently manages CJC Agency, the event organising and talent booking arm of CJC. Dajani is the author of “Transpositions: The New Soundscape of Egypt,” The Cultural Field in Egypt Post January 2011, eds. Mona Abaza and Samia Mehrez (forthcoming, AUC Press, 2015).
Mohammad Shawky Hassan: The Aesthetics of Subtitling: From Problematic Supplements to Indispensable Images
Through watching film clips and reflecting on the translation process, we will examine the problems and possibilities of translating both literary texts and materials from political talk shows and popular culture for the screen. Emphasis will be on the prospects of moving away from viewing subtitles as literal communication to non-native speakers, to incorporating them into the aesthetic of the film, turning them into an integral component of the work which adds to, rather than subtracts from, the image.
Mohammad Shawky Hassan studied film directing and cinema studies at The American University in Cairo, The Academy of Cinematic Arts & Sciences and Columbia University, and is currently an MA candidate in philosophy at AUC, with a specialization in aesthetics. His films include balaghany ayyoha al malek al sa’eed/ it was related to me (2011), On a Day like Today (2012) and Wa Ala Sa’eeden Akhar/ And on a Different Note (2015). In addition to his work as a filmmaker, he presented film programs at the Oberhausen Short Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, The New York Public Library and UnionDocs, and is currently running the Network of Arab Arthouse Screens (NAAS).