The Making of "Europe Knows Nothing About The Orient"

Melissa Toman (SIPA'22)
November 01, 2021

Building upon the April 2021 webinar discussion “Europe Knows Nothing About the Orient”, “The Making of ‘Europe Knows Nothing About the Orient’” webinar addresses the translation and publication process that occurred prior to Professor Zeynep Çelik’s book, Europe Knows Nothing about the Orient, being released. Combining 18 different authors and 31 total pieces from 8 different genres, the cumulation of Europe Knows Nothing About the Orient is meant to serve as an “open-ended project for future research and future readers of contra orientalist discourses elsewhere in the so-called orient.” Beginning with a diagram depicting the various stages of publishing her book, Professor Çelik emphasizes that the true publication process dates back to Edward Said’s publication of Orientalism and the debates that took place the following four decades. The cumulation of her book was not a linear process, and required years of collaboration.

The primary topic of discussion in this webinar is the “how” question of composing the book. Rather than just offering clarity and readability through translations in the target languages, Professor Çelik and her team emphasized accuracy, authentic recreation, and attention to the rhetoric (how text was said and to what effect). While the process of translating original texts may appear trifle, it took a great deal of time and precision. Additional research and resources, such as experts in calligraphy, were required, as well as many instances of collaboration, to publish the various versions of the text. 

Through this informative webinar, Professor Çelik and team dive into the details of the translation process and significance of maintaining the integrity of the original text. Battling through scheduling conflicts and tight deadlines, the team was able to produce versions of the book in French, English, and Turkish. This discussion highlights specifics of the translation process through the reading of passages and excerpts as well as shared notes regarding their drafts. Through their joint efforts, Professor Çelik and team were able to develop final products of Europe Knows Nothing About the Orient in English, French, and Turkish that read well, were accurate, and enjoyable aesthetically. Additionally, they were able to highlight the diversity of voices, diversity of text, and ever-changing language environment of Turkish that influenced the original Ottoman texts.