Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

1 - Translating Iconoclasm: Ma Junwu and Taha Husayn

Friday, March 23
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
Location: Truman, Mezzanine Level

This paper contributes to the ongoing exploration of the archive of translations between Chinese and Arabic produced by Chinese Hui Muslims who studied at Al-Azhar University and worked in Cairo in the 1930s. Although the work of scholars such as Muhammad Ma Jian (1906–1978), translator of the Qur’ān into Chinese, has garnered substantial attention, the work of other Sino-Muslim Azharites awaits further attention. The paper focuses in particular on a translation of The Days (Al-Ayyām, 1923), the first volume of Taha Husayn’s (1889–1973) well-known autobiography, which was rendered into Chinese by the Azharite Ma Junwu in 1947. Ma’s translation and commentary drew connections between Egypt under colonialism and China’s struggles against Japan and Western powers in the first half of the twentieth century. More importantly, Ma Junwu argued that important similarities existed between Husayn’s iconoclasm and the May Fourth movement, especially the work of Lu Xun (1881–1936), perhaps the most important literary figure in China in the 1920s and 1930s. Through a close reading of Ma Junwu’s translation and commentary, the paper argues that we should understand the work Sino-Muslim Azharites represent a significant collective effort at South-South translation and critique that can inform our studies of later internationalist efforts, of Sinophone literature, and alternative formations of the discipline of comparative literature.

Michael Hill

College of William & Mary, Virginia


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1 - Translating Iconoclasm: Ma Junwu and Taha Husayn

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