Publication details [#25803]

Tageldin, Shaden M. 2011. Disarming words: empire and the seductions of translation in Egypt. Berkeley: University of California Press. 369 pp.
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In a book that challenges conventional understandings of the dynamics of cultural imperialism, the author unravels the complex relationship between translation and seduction in the colonial context. She examines the afterlives of two occupations of Egypt—by the French in 1798 and by the British in 1882—in a comparative analysis of acts, fictions, and theories that translated the European into the Egyptian, the Arab, or the Muslim. The author finds that the encounter with European Orientalism often invited colonized Egyptians to imagine themselves "equal" to or even "masters" of their colonizers, and thus, paradoxically, to translate themselves toward the European. Moving beyond the domination/resistance binary that continues to govern understandings of colonial history, the author redefines cultural imperialism as a politics of translational seduction, a politics that lures the colonized to seek power through empire rather than against it, thereby repressing its inherent inequalities.
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