Philosophy and Global Affairs


published on September 13, 2022

Arash Davari, Siavash Saffari

Thought/Translation and the Situations of Decolonization

Known as a revolutionary ideologue and a religious reformer, Ali Shariati’s activities as a translator have not garnered substantial scholarly attention. We reconstruct a history of Shariati’s translations, situating these endeavors at the center of his intellectual project. Shariati’s thought itself, we show, is a form of translation in the service of decolonization. This history reveals a nascent theory of decolonization as open-ended and indeterminate. We advance this claim by staging a conversation between Shariati’s reflections on decolonization and Morad Farhadpour’s evolving concept of thought/translation, a dissident theory of translation influential in contemporary Iran that bears resemblance to Shariati’s performative works. More than an abstruse debate in Iranian intellectual history, these continuities raise questions of pressing concern for postcolonial states, in particular the specificity of local situations as they relate to ongoing global hierarchies.