Comptes rendus

Fruela Fernández and Jonathan Evans, eds. The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics. London/New York, Routledge, 2018, 524 p.[Notice]

  • Xinnian Zheng

…plus d’informations

  • Xinnian Zheng
    Université de Montréal

With the rise of research on translation and politics in Translation Studies, the time is ripe for a handbook on the subject. This is exactly what The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics provides, that is, an overview of the key ideas in and tendencies of translation and politics worldwide. The 33 chapters that comprise the handbook are written by leading scholars who have been chosen for their expertise and knowledge in the field (for instance, Eric Cheyfitz on translation and colonialism, Reine Meylaerts on translation in multilingual states, and Christina Schäffner on institutional translation). The handbook is co-edited by Fruela Fernández and Jonathan Evans. Fernández is a lecturer in Spanish translation at Newcastle University (UK), and his past work deals with the political impact of translation and the role of translation in contemporary politics (2014, 2017), whereas Evans is a senior lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Portsmouth (UK), where he specializes in political and community aspects of translation (2016). The introduction of the handbook, entitled “Emancipation, secret histories, and the language of hegemony,” not only contextualizes the concepts of “politics” and “translation,” but also demonstrates the fact that translation is political by crossing or creating borders between languages and people. On the one hand, translation increases access to texts of different languages, facilitating communication and language policy, but, on the other hand, it creates a wall between speakers of different languages. Indeed, the readers of translated material often forget that the text they are reading comes from another culture (pp. 3-4). Hence, translation has an effect on the representation of communities. The introduction also reviews the works on translation and politics from before the twentieth century to the new millennium, with an emphasis on the late 1980s and the early 1990s. During the latter period, the relationship between translation and politics was explored with the help of concepts or approaches such as ideology, postcolonial studies and minority languages. For example, the editors examine André Lefevere’s essential Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame (1992), which links translation to politics and ideologies, investigating the factors that control the function of translation in literary systems. In a similar vein, they discuss Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology (1992), edited by Lawrence Venuti, which has clearly demonstrated the political and ideological implications of translation by delving into questions of language, discourse and subjectivity. Fernández and Evans also examine the political role of translation by looking at other adjacent disciplines, such as area studies and comparative literature. Political science, as an asset to untraditional and innovative interpretations of translation, also finds its way into the introduction, regarding “‘translation’ as a process of communication” between different political languages (pp. 9-10). As explained by the editors, there are two threads running through the study of the intersecting concepts of translation and politics: “translation of politics” (“How translation has contributed to the evolution and transformation of political practices”) and “politics of translation” (what is “the place of translation within political structures”) (p. 2). However, they argue that “these lines of analysis are not mutually exclusive: a political praxis largely shaped by translation […] can eventually evolve into a political structure that impacts and shapes translation” (ibid.). The various thematic parts of the handbook, “Translation and political ideas,” “Translation and structures of power,” “Politics of translation” and the last part, “Case studies,” all represent the intricate relationship between translation and politics, but it could be said that the last two parts articulate it in specific domains, and that they target specific periods and/or specific locales. The first part of the book, which …

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