Translation: a new paradigm

Today, translation scholarship and practice face a twofold situation. On the one hand translation studies is enjoying unprecedented success: translation has become a fecund and frequent metaphor for our contemporary intercultural world, and scholars from many disciplines, for instance, linguistics, comparative literature, cultural studies, anthropology, psychology, communication and social behavior, and global studies have begun investigating translational phenomena.

On the other hand, many scholars in the field recognize an epistemological crisis in the discipline of translation studies, noticing a repetition of theories and a plethora of stagnant approaches. This impasse derives largely from the field’s inability to renew the discipline and its unwillingness to develop approaches that are able to say something original or reflect the complex situations of migration and hybrid cultures and languages we live in today. Translation needs to redefine its role in a context of fragmented texts and languages in a world of crises within national identities and emerging transnational and translocal realities.

The fertility of the metaphor of translation is worthy of study, and we probably will find out that it is not merely a metaphor. Since Salman Rushdie’s well-known statement “Having been borne across the world, we are translated men” (1991), translation has become a frequent concept to describe and even explain identity as it surfaces in travelling, migrating, diasporic, and border-crossing individuals and cultures. It has been so frequent that some even state we are experiencing a “translation turn” in the humanities. The anthropologist Talal Asad’s concept of “cultural translation” became central in the seminal Writing Cultures edited by James Clifford and George E. Marcus in 1986. Later Clifford developed this concept and imagined travels and even museums as translations (1997). Even though many scholars today are familiar with such a broad use of the concept of translation, they tend to keep them separated from “real” translation. The step forward we want to make with and through this journal is to consider Rushdie’s translated men and Asad and Clifford’s cultural translations as real acts of translation, as representations of how translations appear in our world.

The Invisibility of the African Interpreter
Jeanne Garane

"Les interprètes le font tourner dans un petit cercle d'intrigues.” (The interpreters keep him turning in a narrow circle of intrigues.) Robert Delavignette, Service africain

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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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Reflections on Translation
Paschalis Nikolaou

How does one reflect on translation? For Susan Bassnett, one of the world’s foremost thinkers in translation studies – it is a field she helped into being, no less – this is a question answered incrementally, and over time. Her Reflections on Translation collects critical pieces that appeared, for the most part, in the ITI Bulletin; their significance immediately connects to the author’s name, but the usefulness of – and often, sheer enjoyment in – reading them owes also to an adopted style and approach to communicating what’s really important. 

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