The introduction to the volume situates the politics of translation in the theoretical and methodological landscape of International Relations (IR). It provides an outline of the conceptual framework deployed throughout the book and concludes with a road map to the volume. The chapter argues for an approach to translation as transformation, in contrast to approaches that emphasise an uncontested transfer or transplantation. This framework reconstructs the politics of translation. Translation makes international relations. The politics of translation is located in struggles for meaning, in rendering encounters and interactions tangible and legible. For instance, in processes of translation some actors are given voice and others silenced, and hierarchies are established and dismantled. The introductory chapter points to the relevance of translation as transformation for IR scholarship and in furthering theorization and empirical work.
- International relations
- IR theories
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The emphasis on interaction, exchange, entanglements should not be taken to denote a harmony and reproduce the ideal of ‘equal’ exchanges.
In the words of Zygmunt Bauman (1999, p. xlviii; emphasis in original): ‘Cross-cultural translation is a continuous process which serves as much as constitutes the cohabitation of people who can afford neither occupying the same space nor mapping that common space in their own, separate ways. No act of translation leaves either of the partners intact. Both emerge from their encounter changed, different at the end of the act from what they were at its beginning’.
In other words, the ‘transfer’ metaphor ‘undermines the self-reflexivity and empowerment of translators, encouraging a sort of amnesia about ideology in translation processes that facilitates the unexamined ascendancy of the values of the dominant powers within a culture and throughout the globalizing world’ (Tymoczko 2007, p. 7).
This analytical step reverberates Appadurai’s (1996, p. 44) idea of ‘landscapes’ which ‘are not objectively given’ in ‘a world in which both points of departure and points of arrival are in cultural flux, and thus the search for steady points of reference […] can be difficult’.
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Capan, Z.G., dos Reis, F., Grasten, M. (2021). The Politics of Translation in International Relations. In: Capan, Z.G., dos Reis, F., Grasten, M. (eds) The Politics of Translation in International Relations. Palgrave Studies in International Relations. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-56886-3_1
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