SOAS University of London

Centre for Translation Studies

Palestinian Resistance Literature in Translation Ghassan Kanafani’s 'Men in the Sun'


Date: 26 May 2022Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 26 May 2022Time: 6:00 PM


Type of Event: 0

Speaker: Mahmoud Mohammad Alhirthani (Associate Professor of Translation, Alaqsa University, Gaza)

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This talk examines the cultural and sociopolitical backdrop of the translation of Palestinian resistance literature into English, with special focus on the translation of Ghassan Kanafani’s novel Men in the Sun (1962). Kanafani (1936-1972) is a renowned Palestinian writer whose works have been translated into 18 languages, including English. He  intensely portrayed the Palestinian saga throughout his ouevre, with Men in the Sun being his masterpiece. Informed by experimental works of western fiction writers such as William Faulkner, Kanafani’s writings gained considerable currency in the Arab cultural and literary arena. His early death in Beirut in 1972 deprived the cultural scene from an accomplished talent, yet it ushered in more interest in his work, opening up new horizons for research on and reproduction of his work in Arabic. Translations of his work into English secured him a place in the field of literature in the English-speaking world. However, studies exploring the sociopolitical contexts of the reproduction of his work in English are rare or indeed nonexistent. In the talk, I examine the English translation of Men in the Sun, using an analytical and descriptive approach that draws on Piere Bourdieu’s sociology, particularly the concepts of capital, field and habitus. The talk concludes that Kanafani enjoys considerable cultural and social capital in Arabic, yet the capital he enjoys in English is confined within specialist circles, and his works are not receiving much attention from dominant and influential agents of cultural production.

Key words: Palestinian Resistance Literature, Ghassan Kanafani, Sociopolitics, Reproduction, Field, Habitus, Capital.

·        Mahmoud Alhirthani  teaches translation and intercultural studies at Alaqsa University, Gaza, Palestine. He is a translator, translation reviewer in the field of Arabic translation. 

Organiser: Dr Gloria Lee

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