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Iran: The Problem of Western 'Asia Studies'

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Many Western observers remain blissfully ignorant about Eastern concepts and ideas and refuse to adopt Eastern terminologies into their reports. They describe Eastern cultures on the back of their own Western taxonomies. Is this the future of 'Asia Studies'?

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The Problem of Western "Asia Studies'

Where: Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

When: Dec 3, 2012

Organizer: Dr. A. Doostdar, President of the Center for International Scientific Studies and Collaboration (CISSC); Dr. S. A. Mirhosseini (CISSC)

Host: M. M. Khodaei (President), A. A. Zinatizadah (Head of International Affairs), Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran

Abstract: Many Western observers remain blissfully ignorant about Eastern concepts and ideas and refuse to adopt, for example, Chinese terminologies into their China reports. They describe Eastern cultures on the back of their own Western taxonomies. Is this really how we want "Asia Studies' to be for the future?

Purpose: Persian tradition is a cultural universe with tens of thousands unique non-European terminologies, words, and names. These are precious. Find the ones that are untranslatable (e. g. cannot be expressed adequately with Western lexicon) and introduce them to the world -- in your essays, in your papers, books, interviews. Make globalization sound a bit more Farsi in the future.

Examples: Words that cannot be adequately translated into Western European languages without loosing their Eastern originality, for example Persian: bazaar, kalif, imam, Ramadan, halal, Allah, ayatollah; but also less know concepts like hakim, hekmat, phir and elm: or Sanskrit: dharma, karma, prajna, avatar, nirvana, pundit, atman, yoga; or Chinese wenming, kungfu, fengshui, tao, daxue, and shengren, etc.

Conclusion: Without adopting Eastern terminology in the international discourse, the East will forever look like a place of zero originality.

Thank you!

Key words: Science, Allah, ayatollah, hakim, hekmat, phir, elm, Germany, full, censored, language policy, Asian Studies, place of zero, originality, Eastern saints, Persian origin, problem of translation, language revolution, future language, globalization of language, Kermanshah, Iran, public talk

 

Dr. Thorsten Pattberg, East-West, is a linguist (PhD, Peking University) and the author of 'The East-West dichotomy', 'Shengren', and 'Inside Peking University'. He is also an alumnus of Harvard University, The University of Edinburgh, and The (more...)
 
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