Language and Literature
We present translation as a practice for moving between ways of representing and responding. We see it as a basic, semiotic activity shared across practices associated with mediums, cultures, communities, and disciplines. We argue that translation as social action is useful and needed for finding and establishing common ground.
The papers focus on experiences/texts connected to South, Southeast, and East Asian contexts (Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan). We connect these experiences and texts via translation into other texts and experiences connected to Europe, taking up the following themes:
1. Translating literature and motivations for social and scholarly engagement
2. Translating and adapting art across mediums and problems of textual identity
3. Publishing translations and problems of unequal text flows across global markets
4. Writing translingual poetry and questions of linguistic translation for different audiences
5. Teaching using translation and the pedagogical implications of definitions of languages
By focusing on specific contexts and flows of translated texts, the authors raise questions of legitimacy and identity. For example, when a work of art is translated into another language with adaptations made to fit it into the historical, linguistic, and mythological context appropriate to and familiar for a new audience, can the translated work of art count as “the same” work of art as the original? And how do such ideas about legitimacy and identity affect scholarly and artistic practices and evaluations?
A common thread running through these papers involves the use of English and the markets that using English opens up and restricts, along with the world views its use makes visible and obscures. We address question of institutionalized constraints on the reciprocal flow of translations in and out of English like, how does translation into and out of English widen or narrow the global reception of art and scholarship from non-English or non-European contexts? When text flows are un-equal what can we do to break the trade embargo to achieve a more balanced reciprocity?
Throughout, we pay attention to the details of the behaviors and actions that produce translations. The papers move from individual motivations and practices to institutionalized scholarship and markets, and back. In doing so, we demonstrate how translation opens up possibilities for individual and social action. Both scholarly and artistic attention to the forms, functions, and reception of translations, we argue, helps us to attune ourselves to the common human experiences and concerns that translation makes visible.