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  • Jorge Díaz Cintas

Given the growing pervasiveness of audiovisual communication in all domains of private and public life, audiovisual translation (AVT) has become a very powerful social activity and a highly significant form of intercultural contact among communities that are repeatedly referred to as being multicultural and multilingual, and that increasingly communicate in multimedia and multimodal ways thanks to great technological strides of recent years. AVT has seen a continued boom since the late 1990s and nowadays numbers a respectable following of researchers. Traditionally, AVT has often been studied from a professional point of view, with research focusing mainly on its mechanics, on technical issues such as time and space constraints, lip synchronisation, spotting or cueing of subtitles, and so on. The good news is that topics of research in this field are timidly widening in scope to encompass the socio-cultural dimension. The downside is that despite the crucial role played by audiovisual media in our society, little has been written on the impact that power, ideology, censorship, and manipulation have when translating these programmes into other languages and cultures. In this respect, I would like to argue that in order to raise the status and visibility of our specialist field, we need to find synergies with other disciplines and apply the same rigorous interrogation that other areas of translation have recently undergone. This special issue sees itself as an attempt in that direction and aims to contribute to these new developments by presenting a set of contributions focussed on these crucial issues. The concept of manipulation can be understood in a positive (technical) as well as in a negative (ideological) manner, but it is the latter meaning of ideological manipulation that runs throughout these papers, becomes its thematic spine, and gives cohesion to the whole anthology. In this sense, manipulation is not restricted to the political arena, but is rather understood in a more general way by the various authors. In this compilation of articles, the scholars and practitioners of AVT set off to unmask the ideology that motivates and justifies some of the most telling deviations from the source texts. In so doing, they expose the power struggle at play between the different agents that participate in the translation process and the impact it has in the final shape of the translated text. Although faithful translation can also help propagate and perpetuate certain ideas and behaviours akin to certain regimes and structures, it is the deviational translation that becomes the primary focus of this volume. The contributions that follow dispel the fantasy and ill-conceived assumption that practices like censorship, and to a lesser extent manipulation, belong to the past or that they are the sole hallmark of dictatorial, repressive regimes and draws conclusions regarding the dynamics of manipulation in the specific case of AVT, as well as in the reception and circulation of audiovisual materials in the receiving culture. Translation is not, and never has been, an innocent activity and the manipulation of (audiovisual) texts has taken place over time and continues to be rife, irrespective of the political regimes that happen to be in power. This special volume takes a look at these issues from a diachronic as well as a synchronic perspective, with some of the contributions firmly rooted in the past, whilst others concentrate on case studies that illustrate the extent to which manipulative intervention in AVT exchanges is present in today’s society. Acknowledging the vast array of genres that pertain to the audiovisual realm, the papers here contained do not only deal with films but they also resort to anime, TV series, news reports, documentaries, and …