طقوس الاصطفاف

jack_1313

Senior Member
English - Australian
Hello.

I'm seeking help unpacking and translating the term طقوس الاصطفاف used in the following critique of Lebanon's political system:

يقوم هذا النظام على التفاف المجموعات اللبنانية المختلفة (الطوائف) حول زعامات تحتكر تمثيلها والتفاوض باسمها ... وغالبا ما يستعيد هذا الالتفاف غير المشروط حول الزعماء الطائفيين بدرجة أو بأخرى طقوس الاصطفاف الحاصل خلال الحرب وأحيانا حول الزعماء أنفسهم
This system is based on the rallying of the various Lebanese groups (the sects) around zuama (elite political leaders) who monopolize their representation and negotiation in their name ... Usually, this unconditional rallying around the sectarian zuama is reminiscent, to one degree or another, of the rituals of alignment (occasionally with the zuama themselves) that occurs during war.

What do you think the author might mean by these طقوس? Actual physical "rituals" and practices? Or just the general habit of people to align themselves with their sect during wartime? Any other thoughts?

Thanks :)
 
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  • barkoosh

    Senior Member
    Arabic - Lebanon
    Hi

    I think that طقوس is used figuratively here and refers to things that you do blindly and automatically.
     

    jack_1313

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    Thanks Barkoosh.

    I think "ritualistic alignment" might be a good option. Oxford Dictionary even gives the following example for "ritualistic":
    Invariably performed in the same way.
    ‘the party's ritualistic display of support for their leader’
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    I might go with "ritualized," and I'm not a fan of "alignment."

    How about "ritualized formations"?

    A less literal option: "mechanical formations"
     

    jack_1313

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    Hmm, how do you understand اصطفاف here? I understood it as "to align with" in a general sense, but are you saying that it conveys a sense of literally physically forming formations? Whatever the case, it seems very similar in meaning to التفاف here, the term it's being used to explain.
     

    cherine

    Moderator
    Arabic (Egypt).
    Hmm, how do you understand اصطفاف here? I understood it as "to align with" in a general sense
    That's how I understand too. Or more precisely, it's like soldiers getting in line (behind a leader, in this case).

    By the way, why did you keep "zuama"? Isn't "leaders" a good enough translation?
     

    jack_1313

    Senior Member
    English - Australian
    Thanks Cherine.

    The term "zuama" (and related terms such as "the Zaim System") is pretty well established in English literature on Lebanon, so if we preserve it, the reader can more easily understand that we are referring to this same thing discussed in whatever other sources or find out more about the concept via research. The term also encompasses quite a lot of connotations (e.g. patronage/clientelism) not contained in the English term "leader". It's also a distinctly local term: even in Arabic, زعيم has taken on a special meaning in Lebanon, a meaning that doesn't really exist in other Arabic-speaking countries.

    Of course, that's not to say that it can't be translated as you suggested. The drawback of not translating it is exoticization.

    Edit: This author occasionally uses the terms الزعماء and القادة side by side (الزعماء والقادة), suggested that he seems some difference (albeit probably minor) between the two concepts.
     
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