TRANSLation: Arabic – Persian – Turkish

Emmy Noether Junior Research Group (2022–2028)

Inner-Islamic Transfer of Knowledge within Arabic-Persian-Ottoman Translation Processes in the Eastern Mediterranean (1400–1750)

Translation processes played a central role in the formation of the Ottoman Empire in the early modern period. Against the background of confessional-political polarisation in the eastern Mediterranean and Middle East, a multitude of works were increasingly received, translated and commented upon. Therefore, in a multidisciplinary approach, this junior research group is investigating the transregional transfer of knowledge between 1400 and 1750 holistically for the first time. In doing so, the focus lies on translation as a concept, process and product in a large portion of the Islamic world. The aim is to reveal the central role of Ottoman-Turkish translations of texts in Arabic and Persian as part of the dissolution processes of cultural and literary ambiguity between Sunni and Shia Islam, without a clear understanding of which the intellectual-historical developments in the region cannot be fully comprehended and appreciated.

By bringing together research approaches from Oriental/Middle Eastern studies, translation studies and material philology, the group will not only close significant gaps in the current state of research, but also replace the current, too narrowly defined concepts of translation with a new understanding of translation that better reflects cultural history. This applies, in particular, to the function of translation in the context of ideological self-positioning and confessional demarcation. The further development of literary norms by translators, clients and recipients will also be examined across different types of text. Thus, our four major projects and two associated projects investigate translations within different genres: the major projects focusing on (1) mirrors for princes and historiography, (2) biography and hagiography, (3) encyclopaedia, cosmography and geography, and (4) hadith will be complemented by two associated projects focusing on (5) mystical advice literature and (6) Koranic exegesis.

By focusing on manuscripts as material objects, the junior research group is investigating both the content of the works as well as their readership and the respective contexts in which they were read and used. There is also a particular emphasis on the systematic evaluation of prefaces and colophons, reading notes, ownership notes and stamps, as well as visual features such as the layout structure and illustrations. In this way, the texts can be situated in relation to each other, to translators (as authorially intervening actors), their target readerships and literary practices. Thus, the sub-projects will provide insights into networks and nodes of Middle Eastern-Islamic knowledge production in the early modern period.

The geographical and socio-cultural contextualisation of translation processes, as well as their description within long-term developments of the early modern period, represent a genuine research contribution to the intellectual history of the region and period studied. In order to ensure connectivity with future research projects, the research data on authors, translators, works, manuscripts and the manifold relationships between them will be made available in edited form within a bio-bibliographical reference work to be published at the end of the project period.