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Translation as an Emancipatory Act?
Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of language studies.
2008 (English)In: Neither West Nor East: Postcolonial Essays in Literature, Culture and Religion / [ed] Kerstin Shands, Stockholm: Södertörns högskola , 2008, 29-41 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]


The recognition that culture is not a stable unit but a dynamic process that nurtures on negotiation, incompleteness, difference and performance is saying -- broadly speaking -- that culture is translation. Translation is part of the field of cultural and social practice that inhabits the zones of transitions between cultures; it is a critical dimension where different cultures and cultural conflicts merge and are wrought. There is an understanding that it is not a simple one-tracked notion of textual evidence transported from the source text to the target text. Even the 'source' and the 'target' are too divided and blurred to serve as normative points of references. New cultural meanings -- liberatory meanings -- can be sought in the overlapping semiotics of borderline translation (Spivak, Bhabha, Young).

In this chapter I discuss -- and promote -- translation as a beneficial act act of metonymic cross-writing. I reach this position in a roundabout manner. First I outline Western or mainstream tendencies of the search for equivalences and universals in the pursuit of the fluent translation. What is favoured is an imagined source text in a 'pure' form and a copy faithful and subservient. Such homogenizing or essentializing approaches, it is shown, reinforce hegemonic versions of the text worlds and their often complex collective and refracted self-images. In this second section of the chapter I look at a few cases of how such pluricentral texts are a) already translated, or b) are being (re-)translated metonymically in the process of their 'writing'. Such texts evoke alien or remote language cultures that need translation strategies that shift the focus away from the classic binary of domesticating and foreignization. In the final section of the presentation I return to the suggestions projected by the title of the chaper: the act of translation as a liberating signifying system through transgression and misunderstanding. It is translation as ceaseless mobility and momentary rest; a writing back and/in translation. I discuss: Chinua Achebe, Ahmadou Kourouma and Salman Rushdie.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Södertörns högskola , 2008. 29-41 p.
, English Studies, ISSN 1651-4165 ; 3
Keyword [en]
African literaure, Achebe, self-writing, resistance
National Category
General Literature Studies
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-27055ISBN: 978-91-89315-89-1OAI: diva2:275835
Available from: 2009-11-08 Created: 2009-11-08 Last updated: 2011-10-14Bibliographically approved

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Granqvist, Raoul J.
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