translation editor Siri Nergaard met with Vicente Rafael in Misano Adriatico, Italy in May 2013 at the Nida School of Translation Studies where he gave a series of three lectures.
During the conversation, Rafael explains how he, as a historian, became interested in translation and how he sees translation in connection to war and weaponization. The imperial ideology of translation to gain control over linguistic plurality and diversity is threatening translation, he says, and can be seen as a war of both and on translation. The control over linguistic plurality through English is our own contemporary example of the United States’ imperial project of dominating the world, according to Rafael.
The conversation continues with Rafael’s telling about his interest in translation play as an opposite mechanism to war, enabling an undoing and reconfiguration of the power relations between languages and cultures. Via the example of the Philippines, the talk touches upon the role colonial education plays in regulating language, creating a linguistic hierarchy, and how translation nevertheless appears in surprising forms and expressions.
The interview with Rafael was recorded and can be accessed at the journal’s website: