In its broadest sense, politics is “the ability of a society (a political community) to ask questions, to formulate short-lived responses, and to invent a series of unsatisfactory connections to bind together its diverse segments” (Houle and Thériault, 2001, p. 66; our trans.). Binding together different political ideas is, of course, about power struggles, which are at the heart of politics, but it also relates to mediation, a concept fruitful in both political science (Kydd, 2003; Böhmelt, 2011; Ramirez, 2017) and translation studies (Bedeker and Feinauer, 2009; Bassnett, 2011; Liddicoat, 2016). In translation studies more particularly, the mediation of diverse cultural or ideological perspectives has been approached from various angles. For instance, Basil Hatim and Ian Mason, in their classic The Translator as Communicator, have used mediation from a discursive and textual point of view, where translators “intervene in the transfer process, feeding their own knowledge and beliefs into the processing of text” (1997, p. 147). For them, the translation of ideologies becomes a matter of mediation, in greater or lesser degrees. Other translation scholars have used the concept of mediation from a broader and more global position, such as Maria Tymoczko, who posits that translators are among “the chief meditators between cultures” (2009, p. 184). In any case, the role of translation and the role of translators is never neutral, and the relation between translation and politics is multifaceted and of great interest to professionals, scholars, politicians, and the general public. Policies, like politics, are wide-ranging: as María Sierra Córdoba Serrano and Oscar Diaz Fouces note, public institutions develop policies—or public interventions and decision-making responses—to social issues that have become problematic (2018, pp. 5-6). Language policies can preserve languages and promote the learning of other languages (Sadek, 2012, p. 92), but as argued by Reine Meylaerts, language policies cannot exist without translation policies (2011, p. 744). According to Christina Schäffner, translation policies can help governments promote knowledge of a nation’s culture abroad (2007, p. 138). Moreover, Gaafar Sadek maintains that translation policies are the only way to ensure that information, conclusions, discoveries, comparisons and critiques circulate, which leads to new perspectives, and eventually, to human progress (2012, p. 91). Ultimately, policies and politics are closely intertwined, since governments determine policies, and thereby make political decisions that “encourage, allow, promote, hinder or prevent” translation from taking place (Schäffner, 2007, p. 136). Several language- and translation-related policies are examined in this issue of TTR. Government funding policies can influence which works are selected for translation, what forms these translations will take, who will produce them, and which languages and viewpoints are represented at home and abroad. Such policies are discussed by Sylvia I. C. Madueke, Alexandra Hillinger and Jack McMartin. Digital translation policies govern the planning and management of translation technologies so that they are deployed and used in a coordinated manner (Sandrini, 2016, p. 55). Brian Mossop discusses how such policies can influence whether translators enjoy using translation memories. The first part of this issue explores the sociopolitical contexts in which translation takes place, including the government policies that affect whether and how translations are produced and disseminated. Like Belle, Abigail E. Celis studies the cultural context in which translation takes place; however, Celis uses translation as a lens through which to examine the collection of African objects displayed at the Musée du quai Branly—Jacques Chirac in Paris. As she argues, the museum engages in visual, textual and spatial translation practices by arranging material objects, visual elements and textual material in a way that allows visitors to extract meaning from the experience. Politics is foregrounded in this study, …
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- Liddicoat, Anthony J. (2016). “Translation as Intercultural Mediation: Setting the Scene.” Perspectives, 24, 3, pp. 347-353.
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- Ramirez, Shawn L. (2017). “Mediation in the Shadow of an Audience: How Third Parties Use Secrecy and Agenda-setting to Broker Settlements.” Journal of Theoretical Politics, 30, 1, pp. 119-146.
- Sadek, Gaafar (2012). “Considerations for Translation Rights 2.0.” Translation Spaces, 1, pp. 81-100.
- Sandrini, Peter (2016). “Towards a Digital Translation Policy.” In D. Dejica et al., eds. Language in the Digital Era. Challenges and Perspectives. Warsaw, De Gruyter Open, pp. 50-59.
- Schäffner, Christina (2007). “Politics and Translation.” In P. Kuhiwczak and K. Littau, eds. A Companion to Translation Studies. Clevedon, Multilingual Matters, pp. 134-47.
- Tymoczko, Maria (2009). “Translation, Ethics and Ideology in a Violent Globalizing World.” In E. Bielsa and C. W. Hughes, eds. Globalization, Political Violence and Translation. Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 171-194.