A Note/Warning on My Position

While I advocate for particular strategies and theories of translation, I do so in the historical context of 21st century US sociopolitical irresponsibility and dominance.

I do not speak as a minority, nor as a reader of a language fighting for survival and self determination. Rather, I write as an early 21st century US citizen who has seen ‘his’ country at war for a decade. A decade where significant backlash has resulted against people who look or act different regardless of their relationship to the ‘enemy.’

The US has fought the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq against an undefined terrorist that can best be summed up as ‘different.’ America is at war with difference: “those who oppose our way of life.” And one of the (many) ways this insane fear of, and aggression against, the cultural other has been reproduced to massive levels has been in the systematic representation of the other through and in translation.

A simple result of the discursive regime of domesticating translation (Venuti) is that everybody else – the foreign in books and other media – looks like us. As all translation, all media made by anybody else, is made to look as if it were made by us, we never see difference. All that is good looks like us. All it then takes is the mass display not only of difference, but difference that “hates us,” to spark 10 years of war.

I believe I do not overemphasize the importance of changing the way translation happens in the US.

  • Venuti, Lawrence. The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2008 [1994].
  • —. The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference. New York: Routledge, 1998.

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