Milad Odabaei F'17
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2017
Anthropology and Critical Theory
University of California, Berkeley
Giving Words: Translation and History in Modern Iran
This project is a historical and anthropological examination of the practices of reading and translation of European social thought in postrevolutionary Iran, where translation has emerged as a central form of intellectual production. It draws on over two years of ethnographic and archival research in the Iranian academy, the education and research centers of the Shi’i seminaries, and Tehran’s and Qom’s exclusive translation circles. My dissertation traces the history of the present practices of translation: from the nineteenth-century geopolitical and intellectual encounter of Iran with Europe, the subsequent reformulation of the country’s political vocabularies, and to the twentieth-century Islamic and anti-Western discourses of the 1979 revolution. Its chapters ethnographically explore practices of translation as indices of precarity and hope and argue that the translation of European social thought in contemporary Iran is a simultaneous manifestation of a political crisis and the travails of cultural regeneration.