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Knowledge in motion: The cultural politics of modern science translations in Arabic

Knowledge in motion: The cultural politics of modern science translations in Arabic

Isis; An International Review Devoted to the History of Science and its Cultural Influences 99(4): 701-730

This essay looks at the problem of the global circulation of modem scientific knowledge by looking at science translations in modern Arabic. In the commercial centers of the late Ottoman Empire, emerging transnational networks lay behind the development of new communities of knowledge, many of which sought to break with old linguistic and literary norms to redefine the basis of their authority. Far from acting as neutral purveyors of "universal truths," scientific translations thus served as key instruments in this ongoing process of sociopolitical and epistemological transformation and mediation. Fierce debates over translators' linguistic strategies and choices involved deliberations over the character of language and the nature of "science" itself. They were also crucially shaped by such geopolitical factors as the rise of European imperialism and anticolonial nationalism in the region. The essay concludes by arguing for the need for greater attention to the local factors involved in the translation of scientific concepts across borders.

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Accession: 054050479

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