Translation and violence

Authored by: Moira Inghilleri

The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics

Print publication date:  April  2018
Online publication date:  April  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138657564
eBook ISBN: 9781315621289
Adobe ISBN:


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Some of the starkest examples of the relation between translation and violence occur where social and cultural norms are transgressed and the power of discursive and hierarchical structures become clearly visible. This can apply to content that powerful groups do not wish to see translated; the social and political mechanisms of the suppression of translation itself; the commissioning of retranslations made to reinterpret certain texts, challenging existing translations; the promotion of certain ideologies or interests through the translation of texts; the ideological suppression of new translations of works already authorised in an official translation; the deliberate mistranslation of an oral utterance so as to incriminate a petitioner, complainant, or appellant; the promotion of a certain interpretation of meaning through word choice or other culturally angled speech elements. It can also apply to cases where the terms of a discourse are reconfigured by a powerfully placed interlocutor in such a way as to render the other’s utterance meaningless, false or inaccurate, regardless of the national language employed. In each case the specific political, social and interactional circumstances of the posited translation need to be accounted for in order to analyse the exact structural or interactional relationship between the players with regard to different modalities of power.

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