Hosna Sheikholeslami

Grant Type

Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Denison U., Granville OH

Grant number

Gr. 10186

Approve Date

October 7, 2021

Project Title

Sheikholeslami, Hosna (Denison U., Granville OH) "Translating Imaginaries: The Infrastructure and Politics of Publishing Western Theory in Iran"

My project examines how and why knowledge travels by examining the circulation of translated texts of Western theory in Iran. Western social science and philosophy have become increasingly popular in Iran since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, even as all books undergo pre-publication censorship. Skilled translators of these works are objects of fame and esteem, celebrated in the national media for their intellectual contributions to Iranian society. This project explores the striking popularity of Western theory in Iran by taking the moment of transfer via translation and publication as the starting point for ethnographic inquiry. Based on fieldwork in Tehran from 2012-2014, I examine “translation infrastructures” – those processes, institutions, and social networks through which translations are produced and disseminated as book-objects. Translation infrastructures are powerfully shaped by the materiality of the book and state cultural and economic policies, and are the grounds through which translators, publishers, and censors make decisions regarding the selection, production, and dissemination of translated texts as book-objects, thereby enabling their eventual public consumption. I demonstrate how these mediators’ social imaginaries regarding the ideal form and operation of publics informs the texts they select for circulation, providing insight into the formation of reading publics and movement of knowledge under presumably illiberal regimes.