The Global Studies Seminar welcomes Amanda Al-Raba’a presenting “Blogging as Cultural Translation during the Iraq War.” Al-Raba’a is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature at UNC Chapel Hill and Visiting Instructor of Comparative Literature at Oberlin College. She works on gender, war, and translation in modern Middle Eastern, North African, and Arab diaspora literature in Arabic, English, and French. Her current project focuses on the figure of the translator and the role of translation in Iraq War literature.
News coverage of the US invasion and occupation of Iraq largely neglected Iraqi voices and perspectives. Two Iraqi bloggers, Riverbend, and Salam Pax rose to popularity for their frank, personal styles and discussions of daily life under the US occupation for an anglophone audience. This talk will look at the ways Riverbend and Salam Pax consciously act as “cultural translators” by explaining Iraqi sociocultural practices, the meanings of words in Iraqi Arabic, and the inconsistencies between Western news media and their lived experiences. Further, it will examine how, through their strategic use of English, they intervene in—and in many cases undermine—dominant Iraq War narratives.