A Futile Quest for Cultural Diversity in “the Promised Land”: The case of Gavur Mahallesi by Mıgırdiç Margosyan

Abdal G.

La traduzione come atto politico/ Translation as Political Act/ La traduction comme acte politique, Perugia, İtalya, 9 - 11 Mayıs 2018, cilt.1, ss.3-4

  • Cilt numarası: 1
  • Basıldığı Şehir: Perugia
  • Basıldığı Ülke: İtalya
  • Sayfa Sayıları: ss.3-4


Does multiculturality oblige an ideological outlook on translation by its very nature? This paper aims to answer this question through a comparative analysis of Mıgırdiç Margosyan’s Turkish novel “Gavur Mahallesi” and its English translation “Infidel Quarter.” Of Armenian descent, coming from the Southeast Anatolia Region, Mıgırdiç Margosyan focuses in his literary works on the themes of cultural diversity and levelling, ethnicity and national identity, and on patterns of social exchange. In “Gavur Mahallesi”, he tries to show his readers how ethnic boundaries have been blurry in Diyarbakır, a city in the Southeast Anatolian Region, since time immemorial. Containing a number of words, phrases and linguistic statements in various languages from very different ethnic communities, the novel itself becomes a site of multicultural encounters. In a striking passage, a Turkish muezzin (the person who recites the azan in Islam) scrambles with an Orthodox sacrist (the person who rings the bells in Christianity) to make their respective religions’ voices heard over the house of a Kurdish blacksmith. In the first part of this presentation, linguistic choices are evaluated focusing on the creation of the cultural settings in the Turkish and English versions of the novel. In the second part, I address the question of how a particular ethnic group is represented (socially, economically, politically, culturally, etc.) in the original as well as translated version. In the third part, I discuss to what extent the ideology of the author, Mıgırdiç Margosyan, and the translator, Matthew Chovanec, is hidden or revealed between the lines. The presentation will conclude by illustrating how the novel’s author achieved to build a hybrid space that is far from being stereotypical and biased, whereas the translator “bona fide” neutralized the multicultural style and voice in the English version to make the work more comprehensible for the target readership.