History, language and translation

Claiming the Indian nation

Authored by: Hephzibah Israel

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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The notion of ‘politics of translation’ invites deliberation on translation as a political act and indeed on how and the extent to which ‘translation’ and ‘politics’ interact in the Indian context. What role does translation play in the construction of ideas of nationhood in contemporary India and, conversely, how does it serve to challenge dominant ideas of the Indian nation? In this chapter, I wish to consider the place and function of translation in two different kinds of nation-building exercises from the post-independence past of the Indian nation state. The significant players in this hi/story identify with the idea of India as a sovereign state and seek to define it as a nation in an attempt to address a seemingly overwhelming heterogeneity that is taken to challenge the basis of a united, self-contained nation state. The kinds of interventions that translations and ideas about translation may make in the conceptualisation of India as a nation state are not commonly examined but this seems particularly pertinent on the occasion of the 70th year of Indian independence in 2017.

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