Sneak Peek 40: Mohammad Alavi

The Universality of Translation in Intersystemic Communication. Instances of Translation in Sociology of Religion

Mohammad Alavi

University of Ottawa

Abstract: This presentation pursues two interconnected goals: to explore the omnipresence of translation in intersystemtic interaction, and consequently to argue for the necessity of a higher level of theorizing in translation studies.

In its structure, this presentation will first provide a definition of translation and its function in systemic terms by relying mainly on Luhmann’s theory of social systems. Secondly, it will use examples from sociology (Latour 2005, Renn 2006) and translation studies (Tyulenev 2010; Alavi 2015) to show how translation functions to enable, facilitate, accelerate, or even condition interactions among different (social) systems. By relying on these examples, it will finally argue how the omnipresence of translation has encouraged some scholars in TS (Tyulenev 2012, Marais 2013, Basalamah, forthcoming) to theorize translation at a higher level of abstraction. I will suggest that such abstract theorizing of translation is necessary for TS to reflect on its status as a coherent and unified field of study.

 Bio: Mohammad Alavi is a part time professor of German at the University of Ottawa. He wrote his dissertation on the translation of modernity in Iran’s post-revolutionary society. For his research, he drew his theoretical inspirations from hermeneutics and systems theory to study the interaction of religious and political systems in Iran’s post-revolutionary society. He has published articles on the translation of Islam and modernity in Iran’s society. His interests in translation studies are translation theory, sociology of translation, translation of Islam, and translation of modernity in Islamic societies.