Music, politics and translation

Authored by: Şebnem Susam-Saraeva

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:

10.4324/9781315621289-23

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Abstract

Within popular music studies and ethnomusicology, the links between politics and music have been well recognised and documented. The field is rife with examples where music’s potential as a political tool has been recognized both by those who utilize it as such and those who are threatened by it. There are volumes of research available that approach the topic through the lens of linguistic, ethnic, and (trans)national identity and music (e.g. Biddle and Knights 2007); focusing on the intricate politics among globalisation, the phenomenon of ‘world music’, and local forms of music production and consumption (e.g. Frith 1989); unearthing different forms of power at the intersection of music and politics (e.g. Randall 2005; Nooshin 2009); and exploring the role of music in conflict resolution (e.g. Urbain 2008). Yet, rather unsurprisingly from the point of view of translation studies scholars, issues of translation are not directly addressed in these volumes (for a welcome exception, see Spener 2016). The majority of the work focuses on the political significance of music in its own country and language of origin, or of music that travels across linguistic and cultural borders without being mediated in any form. If the word ‘translation’ is used at all, it is almost always in its metaphorical sense, often referring to some form of lack of understanding of political context, be it related to social, historical, religious or governmental factors, and therefore pointing to a ‘loss in translation’ (e.g. Kan n.d.).

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