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Queens Building LT4.1

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The Obligation to Migrate: Narratives of Muslim Migration in Soviet Translation

A seminar by Dr Rebecca Gould (University of Bristol) for the Centre for Translating Cultures

A Centre for Translating Cultures seminar
Date7 June 2017
Time15:30
PlaceQueens Building LT4.1

A seminar by Dr Rebecca Gould (University of Bristol) for the Centre for Translating Cultures The Obligation to Migrate: Narratives of Muslim Migration in Soviet Translation This talk engages with literary renderings of the archetypal Muslim migration story, the hijra of Muhammad, in the literatures of the Soviet Caucasus. The ancient Muslim migration narrative functions in Soviet poetry and prose as a bridge between past and present, and a tool that refracts a political reality that, due to Soviet censorship, could not be directly exposed. By translating an early Islamic historical phenomenon into a Soviet present, Georgian, Chechen, Ingush, and Abkhaz writers managed to comment on their political present. They used the early Islamic rhetoric of migration (hijra) to come to terms with the tsarist-era expulsions of the indigenous peoples of the Caucasus to Ottoman lands as well as to engage elliptically with the Stalin-era deportations of these same peoples to Central Asia. The novels and poems I discuss show how translation, broadly understood, can support and nurture political critique even and especially when the immediate object of critique remains obscured. I use examples from Georgian poetry to describe this process.


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