Interview with Robert J.C. Young

translation editor Siri Nergaard met with Robert J. C. Young in New Your City on September14th 2012 at the Nida Research Symposium.



During the conversation Young expresses how, asa scholar of postcolonial studies, he became interested in translation and how he discovered that “translation in some sense is what postcolonial studies is all about.” After a discussion onthe centrality of power in translation, the conversation shifts to empowerment and how, in the colonial context and elsewhere, this involves a three-stage process that includes the experienceof being translated, then of de-translation, and finally of retranslation of the self. Young explains how he intends “cultural translation,” a process in which he is particularly interested,especially in the sense of a specific practice. With examples from both Freud and Fanon, he explains how we can reconstruct such a practice—a practice that encloses a theory—through a kind of archaeology of how it has been performed in earlier idioms. The discussion then deals with the question of whether it is necessar y to limit the definition and use of the concept of translation, the authors who have meant the most to Young, and the theme of national languages and multilingualism.

(Issue 1 of translation contains Young’s article “Frantz Fanon and the enigma of cultural translation”); (Robert Young’s lecture at the 2013 Nida Research Symposium was devoted to how Freud can be considered a theoretician of translation and how his psychoanalysis can be seenas a form of translation. 

Robert J.C. Young is Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature at New York University. He was formerly Professor of English and Critical Theory at Oxford University and a fellow of Wadham College. In different ways, his work has been primarily concerned with people and their cultures who exist or have existed on the margins and peripheries of society, whether nationally or globally. He has published White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (Routledge, 1990, new edition 2004); Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Culture, Theory and Race (Routledge, 1995); Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Blackwell, 2001); Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2003); and The Idea of English Ethnicity (Blackwell, 2008). He is the General Editor of Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies, and was also a founding editor of the Oxford Literary Review, which he edited from 1977 to 1994. His work has been translated into twenty languages.


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Interview with Robert J.C. Young

translation editor Siri Nergaard met with Robert J. C. Young in New Your City on September14th 2012 at the Nida Research Symposium.

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