Nahdah Translators and the Politics of Modernization in Colonial Egypt: A Paratextual Analysis of Darwinism as a Reform Project

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Farah Magdy Zeina


This paper examines the modern Nahdah translation movement in Egypt, the end of the 19th century and turn of the 20th century, a period characterized by conflicting ideologies and reform projects. The paper examines western ideologies, imported via translation, as modernization projects. It presents a case study of Salama Moussa, a radical Nahdah intellectual, by focusing on his agenda for reform in the age of decolonization. The paper critically analyzes paratextual elements of Moussa’s Nazariyyat al-tatawwur wa-asl al-insan (Theory of Evolution and the Origin of Man) published in 1928 as a case of ‘concealed translation’. Situating the text in context reveals the alignment of the translation with norms of the translation policy in a given socio-historical moment.

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Farah Magdy Zeina, Cairo University

MA Scholar in Cultural Politics of Translation Studies, English Language and Literature, Cairo University.