Politics of translation in the ‘French’ Caribbean

Authored by: Anne Malena

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 quotation marks around the word ‘French’ in the title of this chapter act as a reminder of the complex linguistic and cultural ‘politics’ in the region where Guadeloupe and Martinique are French departments; Haiti has been independent since 1804 and the vast majority of people speak Creole before French; and as for the American state of Louisiana, French and Creole are mostly confined to the southwest and continue to struggle for survival. A translation perspective cast upon the region permits a multifaceted socio-political exploration of its history but it is not without its methodological and research challenges. Corpora for these territories do not exist, but for the purpose of analysing the politics of translation in the chosen time period (from the seventeenth to the end of the nineteenth century), the collection of materials presented below will fall into three categories: (1) Guadeloupe and Martinique; (2) Haiti; (3) Louisiana, on account of its having been colonised by three different powers. The lack of corpora raises two methodology questions: first, it makes adopting a Caribbean-centred focus – this chapter’s aim – rather challenging and second, the analysis of colonial contexts and politics remains preliminary. As a result, the relative absence of research on this topic indicates that the archives themselves have been marginalised, which in turn reveals that imperial politics affected the production of translation (Cheyfitz 1991) and, of course, translation was itself often political, and at the service of one ideology or another.

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