Translation, tradition, and the ethical turn: A reply to Bardawil and Allan

The Arabic Freud … does not aim to augment the literature on psychoanalysis by contributing yet another reading of Freud (merely to be added to the French, American, Argentinian, or Indian Freud), nor does it simply argue that psychoanalysis as a discipline was itself constituted by the Other (and, therefore, always already inflected by histories of colonialism and of the non-West). Eschewing the pretension to abstraction so characteristic of philosophical reflections on selfhood, it rejects the premise of much Euro-American theory in which “geopolitics provides the exemplars, but rarely the epistemologies.” Instead, I stage a scene of reading between psychoanalysis and Islam that takes place otherwise, at the intersection of multiple epistemological and ethical traditions of selfhood. Such “irreducible work of translation, not from language to language, but from body to ethical semiosis” cannot resort to the resolutely secular framings within which a knowledge formation like psychoanalysis has traditionally been understood.