Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, Anthropology and Sociology, Denison University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2012
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Yale University
“Do Books Make Revolutions?”: Publishers, Translators, and the Circulation of Western Philosophy in Iran

This ethnographic study of the Iranian publishing and translation industries asks how and why ideas travel by tracing the circulation of translated texts of Western philosophy, social science, and critical theory in Iran. I suggest that examining publishers and translators’ selection practices as well as public reception can help us understand how and why certain theories and/or thinkers gain prominence. I locate both publishers and translators as intellectuals given their role and investment in promoting certain forms of knowledge and attend to their subjectivities and subject positions. I also explore the social practices of production, dissemination, and reception central to the formation of public reading. This project innovately draws on the anthropology of intellectuals, knowledge, and media as well as postcolonial and poststructural literature on translation that problematizes the discursive binary between the “West” and the “Rest.” An anthropological study of publishing houses, publishers, and translators can shed light on the processes, politics, and public effects of the practices of the circulation of “Western” knowledge in a contemporary Islamic regime.