The Role of Translators in Contemporary Iran: New Perspectives on Collaboration, Retranslation, and Visibility
AffiliationSchool of Languages and Linguistics
Document TypePhD thesis
Access StatusThis item is embargoed and will be available on 2022-04-23.
© 2019 Samira Saeedi
Translators in western literature are deemed to be generally invisible. In Iran, instead, literary translators, are highly visible. Their names are almost always embossed on the front cover of translations. They are interviewed and invited to book launches in order to sign their work. They are also recruited as trainers for instructing to-be translators by publishing companies. My project addresses the following questions: 1. Why are translators visible in contemporary Iran? 2. What role do translators play in contemporary Iran? 3. How do translators collaborate with other translators, publishers, editors, authors, and readers? Four circumstances make Iran a particularly interesting case study. The literary field of contemporary Iran is marked by a sharp rise of translations from English into Persian. International copyright laws are not applied in Iran. Retranslations are extremely common in contemporary Iran. The official publishing permit system presents challenges for translators and publishers. In line with sociological approaches to translation, my thesis focuses on the role of translators in contemporary Iran. My findings are based on extensive data collected from primary and secondary resources, paratextual materials, interviews and social media. Paratexts of George Orwell’s Animal Farm and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book series were the primary resources that I used for this study. I also conducted oral-history interviews with 10 Iranian literary translators and 5 publishers based in Tehran. To investigate the reception of translations I carried out social media analysis. In order to understand the role of translators, I first assessed translators’ micro-level interactions and collaborations with other translators, publishers and editors. Then, I examined their role in commissioning retranslations and their reasons for retranslating literary works. Translators’ strategies are discussed as a direct response to the publishing permits required for any publication in Iran. Finally, I discussed the legal status of translators in Iran and their strategies of self-presentations and visibility. By offering new evidence from a non-western context, my thesis brings insights into collaboration, retranslation, censorship and visibility in translation studies.
KeywordsTranslation Studies; Sociology of Translation; Visibility; Agency; Censorship; Collaborative Translation; Retranslation; Contemporary Iran
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