EUME Berliner Seminar
Wed 07 Feb 2024 | 17:00–18:30

Subversive Mimicry: Translating Zionist Children’s Literature into Arabic

Loaay Wattad (EUME Fellow 2023/24), Chair: Galili Shahar (Marcel Reich-Ranicki Chair in German Literature, Tel Aviv University)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

The Israeli policy of trade restrictions with the Arab world led to a self-contained sphere of Arabic children's literature within the state of Israel for Palestinian children. Authors and translators faced the challenge of preserving Palestinian identity while seeking acceptance within the Israeli Ministry of Education system. The resulting translation of Hebrew children's literature into Arabic became a politically charged act due to the ideological nature of Hebrew literature in Israel. My research focuses on translating Israeli children's literature with Zionist values into Arabic, examining the strategies employed by translators to navigate translational dissonance. Three Zionist classics – "Where is Pluto" (1957), "A Tale of Five Balloons" (1974), and "A Children's March" (2000) – serve as case studies. Some translators actively modify content, while others maintain fidelity to the original Zionist ideology in the translated text. Through concepts such as minor literature, minor translation, Colonial Mimicry, and Imitation, this research suggests three models of translation: Subversive mimicry, interpretive-cultural translation, and dissonant translation. The study offers insights into the complex dynamics of translating ideological children's literature in a context of political and cultural tension and colonial contexts.

Loaay Wattad, a 2023-2024 EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien, is a literary scholar and critic with a focus on the sociology of Palestinian and Israeli children’s literature. Based at the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University, his dissertation, titled "Minor Literature for Minor Readers," presents a comparative analysis of Palestinian children’s literature. Beyond his academic pursuits, Loaay actively contributes to the Maktoob translators' circle, dedicated to translating literary works from Arabic to Hebrew. Furthermore, he serves as the editor-in-chief of the Hkaya journal, specializing in Arabic children's literature.

Galili Shahar, Professor of Comparative Literature, the Marcel Reich-Ranicki Chair of German Literature, Tel Aviv University. Main areas of research and teaching are German, Jewish, Hebrew and Persian literature and culture. 

Please note that the Berliner Seminar will take place on-site at the Forum Transregionale Studien. We kindly ask for prior registration via eume(at)trafo-berlin.de. Depending on approval by the speaker(s), the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available on SoundCloud.

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