Egyptian translators working at Iqraa—the world’s first Islamic television channel—use a variety of strategies in subtitling Arabic-language preaching programs into English. These translators see their task as twofold: to act as “cultural mediators” responsible for countering perceived Western stereotypes about Muslims, on the one hand, and, on the other, to transmit as “preachers by proxy” correct and relevant religious knowledge to viewers when, at times, the Arab preachers they subtitle fail to do so. Translators feel authorized to contest through subtitles both external representations of Islam and internal interpretations of divine intent. Far from being just exercises in interlingual equivalence, subtitling is a form of moral critique motivated by both postcolonial and theological imperatives. These acts of translation, and their internal debate at Iqraa, exceed the familiar Euro-American antimony of fidelity and betrayal.
Subtitling Islam: Translation, Mediation, Critique
Yasmin Moll is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and a member of the Michigan Society of Fellows. She is currently completing a book titled “The Revolution Within: Critique and the Islamic Revival.”
Yasmin Moll; Subtitling Islam: Translation, Mediation, Critique. Public Culture 1 May 2017; 29 (2 (82)): 333–361. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/08992363-3749093
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