Translating Khan on Singer: Global Solvent Versus Local Interpretation

Publication Year : 2006

This work focuses on Peter Singer’s book, One World: The Ethics of Globalisation, and a reading of it recently presented by M. Ali Khan. Khan’s response to Singer is acutely critical, but ultimately fails to situate Singer’s offering in its proper historical context. In this sense, Khan’s response is not sufficient. We demonstrate that Singer’s offering is permeated by a universalising discourse marked by asymmetric power relations clearly described by Edward Said in Orientalism and, more surprisingly, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky in The Possessed. We illustrate how Singer’s narrative and the counter-narrative of Khan represent a continuation of a longer historical disputation between the West and the East. JEL classifications: J7, B31 Keywords: Orientalism, Globalisation, Economy, Language, Translation, Communication, Domination, Dialogue, Local, Global, Community …It is a sign of the decay of nations when they begin to have gods in common. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1872)1 …Political imperialism governs an entire field of study, imagination, and scholarly institutions—in such a way as to make its avoidance an intellectual and historical impossibility. —Edward Said (1979)2