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Translation and Power

Translation and Power

Copyright Date: 2002
Pages: 272
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    Translation and Power
    Book Description:

    The contributors to this volume see translation as an activity that takes place not in an ideal neutral site but in real social and political situations, with parties who have vested interests in the production and reception of texts across linguistic and cultural boundaries. Translation is not simply a process of faithful reproduction but invariably involves deliberate acts of selection, construction, and omission. It is inextricably linked to issues of cultural dominance, assertion, and resistance—in short, to power. Although governments, churches, publishing firms, and other powerful institutions may influence the translation process, many translators have found ways to resist that influence and have used translation to introduce new ideas and modes of expression. Exploring the nexus of translation and power, the essays in this volume offer a wide variety of examples, across multiple languages and societies. They range from case studies of historical episodes in which translation has played a role in the assertion of political and military power, such as an 1840 treaty between the British and Maori that continues to be a source of conflict in presentday New Zealand, to analyses of the work of specific translators, such as Germaine de Staël and Gayatri Spivak. Along with examining how translation contributes to ideological negotiations and cultural struggles, the essays reveal the dimensions of power inherent in the translation process itself—in the relationship of translator to author, source text, and translated text. In addition to the editors, contributors include Rosemary Arrojo, Michael Cronin, Sabine Fenton, Camino Gutiérrez Lanza, Christopher Larkosh, Alexandra Lianeri, Lin Kenan, Carol Maier, Paul Moon, Adriana S. Pagano, and Sherry Simon.

    eISBN: 978-1-61376-170-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xi-xxviii)

    A focused examination of questions pertaining to power and translation can be dated from 1990, when Susan Bassnett and André Lefevere wrote in the introduction toTranslation, History and Culturethat although empirical historical research can document changes in modes of translation, toexplainsuch changes a translation studies scholar must go into “the vagaries and vicissitudes of the exercise of power in a society, and what the exercise of power means in terms of the production of culture, of which the production of translations is a part” (1990a:5). Although this call from Bassnett and Lefevere initiated more searching examinations,...

  5. Translation and the Establishment of Liberal Democracy in Nineteenth-Century England: Constructing the Political as an Interpretive Act
    (pp. 1-24)

    The representation of other cultures in the signifying codes of a historical community is increasingly described by contemporary theorists as a process of interpretation or cultural translation.¹ The idea that our knowledge of cultures is neither unmediated nor neutrally articulated in scientific discourses, but remains contingent on the conceptual potential and social conditions of its own historical production, has resulted in the use of a metaphorical conception of translation as a theoretical alternative to the notion of representation as faithful reproduction of an original semiotic unit. Within the framework of this “interpretive turn” manifested in philosophy, as well as in...

  6. The Translation of the Treaty of Waitangi: A Case of Disempowerment
    (pp. 25-44)

    The Treaty of Waitangi was signed in 1840 by William Hobson, a representative of the British Crown, and more than five hundred Maori chiefs signed a translation of it into Maori. Over the years the treaty has come to symbolize the birth of the New Zealand nation. It was a remarkable document in an age that saw nothing wrong with a powerful nation simply walking in and taking over the government of indigenous people and their country. The Treaty of Waitangi expressed a new morality and ethics toward the rights of an indigenous people by a colonizing government and is...

  7. The Empire Talks Back: Orality, Heteronomy, and the Cultural Turn in Interpretation Studies
    (pp. 45-62)

    InThe Twitsby Roald Dahl, the monkey Muggle-Wump and his family are prisoners of Mr. and Mrs. Twit.¹ They try to warn birds that wish to land on a tree in the Twits’ garden that the tree is covered with glue and that the birds will end up encased in bird pie, but “these were English birds and they couldn’t understand the weird African language the monkeys spoke” (Dahl 1982:56). It is only when the Roly-Poly bird turns up that the English birds are saved from their culinary fate, as he knows the language both of Muggle-Wump and of...

  8. Writing, Interpreting, and the Power Struggle for the Control of Meaning: Scenes from Kafka, Borges, and Kosztolányi
    (pp. 63-79)

    From the perspective of psychoanalytical thought, the writing of fiction and the desire to master reality are inextricably intertwined.¹ Freud claims that as the creative writer “creates a world of fantasy which he takes very seriously—that is, which he invests with large amounts of emotion,” his primary goal is “to rearrange the things of his world in a new way which pleases him” (1983:25). If “imaginative writers” are, thus, comparable to “dreamers in broad daylight,” and if their “creations” are equated with “daydreams” over which they feel they can have the ultimate control, what such writers finally seek is...

  9. Translation as Testimony: On Official Histories and Subversive Pedagogies in Cortázar
    (pp. 80-98)

    The poststructuralist dissolution of generic boundaries that has characterized literary theory and cultural studies in the last three decades points to the redefinition of the concept oftheoryand the emergence and consolidation of critical theory as a postmodern genre (Beebee 1994b:11). Characterized by its interdisciplinary nature and its interrogation of the disciplinary discourses with which it interacts, critical theory redesigns the boundaries between traditionally exclusive categories, including fiction and nonfiction. In this sense the Argentine writer and critic Jorge Luis Borges is indisputably connected to the reshaping of the concept of theory and its exchange with fictional discourse. His...

  10. Translating Woman: Victoria Ocampo and the Empires of Foreign Fascination
    (pp. 99-121)

    What do translators look for in translations, not only their own but in those of others, and is it ever possible for these translations to fulfill their expectations, fantasies, or desires? One possible answer may be found in the title of a book that the Argentine Victoria Ocampo (1890–1979) chose to translate from English into Spanish: Mohandas K. Gandhi’sMy Life Is My Message. Gandhi’s life/message is one that begins in India, in a source language, Gujarati, inaccessible to the translator; it then passes through English, the common language of author and translator, to be translated finally into Spanish,...

  11. Germaine de Staël and Gayatri Spivak: Culture Brokers
    (pp. 122-140)

    A cross the distance of two centuries, the careers and ambitions of Germaine de Staël and Gayatri Spivak, two prominent intellectuals, show remarkable similarities. As “culture brokers” mediating between different intellectual traditions and reporting back to powerful nations, both devote considerable attention to the impact of translation. The most salient point of difference between them, for our purposes, is that de Staël wrote at the time of the emergence of the modern European nation-state, whereas Spivak testifies to the troubled status of the nation-state in the era of globalization.

    Germaine de Staël (1766–1817) and Gayatri Spivak (1942–) both...

  12. Spanish Film Translation and Cultural Patronage: The Filtering and Manipulation of Imported Material during Franco’s Dictatorship
    (pp. 141-159)

    One of the most significant periods for the study of sociopolitical manipulation of discourse in the recent history of Spain is the era of the Franco dictatorship (1939–75). Film translation took place in a context in which all foreign information had to be adapted to the cultural requirements of the Franco regime by means of a series of norms that aimed at “reducing the complexity and contingency of the impulses coming from the environment” (Hermans 1991:160). In such a situation where threatening values must be replaced, translational norms, or “required relationships between source text and target text” (Delabastita 1991:142),...

  13. Translation as a Catalyst for Social Change in China
    (pp. 160-183)

    In recent years there has been an increased interest in the history of translation among Western translation studies scholars.¹ Lawrence Venuti, for example, has delved deeply into the history of English translation in order to find a way to increase the translator’s visibility. He concludes that the root cause of the pitiful plight of translators and their invisibility could be attributed to the so-called fluency tendency, which was the norm in English translation for most of the twentieth century. In his anthologyTranslation/History/Culture: A Sourcebook, André Lefevere traces the two-thousand-year-long history of pronouncements about translation in the West, starting with...

  14. Translation, Dépaysement, and Their Figuration
    (pp. 184-194)

    In his essay “Poetry asEruv,” Octavio Armand envisions the creation of an intriguing defense to be constructed through the poetry of exile, often a poignant expression ofdépaysement.¹ He proposes the erection of a rampartlike fence that will not only separate and exclude but also foster community and collaboration. As he explains, theeruvis the “legal fiction” that, for Orthodox Jews, creates a domain within which certain items may be transported without breaking the laws of the Sabbath: “On Saturdays, Orthodox Jews designate an area of their neighborhood as a private domain by encircling it with a piece...

  15. Translation, Poststructuralism, and Power
    (pp. 195-218)

    In this essay I reflect on the engagement by translators and translation studies scholars in the United States with poststructural thought. I find that the use of deconstruction for causes such as feminism, postcolonialism, liberal humanism, and multiculturalism, for example, tends to be full of contradictions. After briefly looking at work by leading translation studies scholars in the United States, including Lawrence Venuti and Suzanne Jill Levine, I juxtapose their work against that of postcolonial feminist Gayatri Spivak. I find that poststructuralism in the United States tends to be used on a selective basis, often with a definite sociopolitical agenda...

  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 219-235)
  17. Contributors
    (pp. 236-238)
  18. Index
    (pp. 239-244)
  19. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-245)