Biography as cultural diplomacy: Cold War best sellers in the Middle East
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A webinar with Dr Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam (Leiden University), run by the Transnational Cultural and Visual Studies research theme under the School-wide Crisis and Culture research theme at the School of Modern Languages.
On 5th October 1953, an Arabic book was published in Cairo that was selling like hot cake, not only in Egypt but across the Arab world. It had a print run of 30.000 copies. Work for a Persian version of the book had to be stopped. A similar book but with a different title appeared two years later in Persian with a print-run of 20.000 copies, proving similarly successful. These books were sponsored by Franklin Publications, Inc., an American Cold War book program. How did these books, in the “days of cynicism, pessimism and doubting,” came to be successful given the high suspicion of the American’s presence in the Middle East on the one hand, and the low literacy rates in both Egypt and Iran on the other? “What were these Americans up to? Could it be that there were no strings?” In this talk, we explore the story behind these books in an attempt to understand how they were published, by what means translation and adaptation served American cultural diplomacy in the region, and what legacy these books left behind.
Esmaeil Haddadian-Moghaddam is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions research fellow at Universiteit Leiden and the editor (with Giles Scott-Smith) of a recent special issue on “Translation and the Cultural Cold War” (Translation and Interpreting Studies 15: 3). He is the author of Literary Translation in Modern Iran: A Sociological Study (2014) and has published in Target, Perspectives and Journal of World Literature of which he is a founding and managing editor.
The event will be delivered in the medium of English. You are welcome to ask questions in the medium of Welsh during the Q&A session. If you intend to do this, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org by Thursday 13 May to request simultaneous translation. Please note that 10% or more of those planning to attend will need to request this provision in order for it to be sourced and will be subject to resource availability.
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