Comptes rendusBook Reviews

Judith Weisz Woodsworth, ed. Translation and the Global City: Bridges and Gateways. New York and London, Routledge, 2022, 260 p.

  • Christine York

…plus d’informations

  • Christine York
    Concordia University

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Couverture de Traduction et subversion, Volume 35, numéro 2, 2e semestre 2022, p. 9-255, TTR

In 2019, Judith Weisz Woodsworth organized an international summer school in translation studies that drew participants from Canada, the US, Europe, and South America for two weeks of lectures, readings, cultural activities, and debate on translation and the global city. She describes it as “an unforgettable experience, undoubtedly the most gratifying in my entire teaching career” (p. xiii). From the summer school came this remarkable volume of essays that, each in its own way, look at how translation facilitates or hinders the movement of ideas and cultures within and between urban spaces. The book locates itself within the “spatial turn” in translation studies, another in the series of turns that have characterized the discipline. This theoretical perspective—interest in which may stem from its contrast to the dematerialized online spaces that have become so central to our lives—seeks to exploit the ever-present spatial metaphors that describe the dynamic of translation: the movement from source to target text, translation as transfer and “crossing over,” references to translation flows, scapes, contact zones, maps, and borders. It builds on work like the issue of Translation Studies devoted to global landscapes of translation (Kershaw and Saldanha, 2013), publications by Sherry Simon on cities as sites of translation (2012, 2019), and Federico Italiano’s “translation of geographies” (2016, p. 4). Montreal, where the summer school took place, is an appropriate focus for this line of research, not only because it is a hub of translation activity, with numerous translation agencies and practitioners located there, but because the city itself is an island. Located at the confluence of three rivers, Tiohtià:ke, as it is known in Kanien’kéha (Mohawk), long served as a gathering place for Indigenous peoples, and is now connected to its suburbs by architecturally diverse bridges that offer points of crossing (and occasionally, roadblocks) and remain ever-present in the landscape and the collective imagination. Along with bridges, the book uses the trope of gateways, through which some sort of passage is possible, to broaden its reflection on translational spaces. In her introduction, Woodsworth emphasizes her connection to the city of Montreal, where she first went as a student, after growing up in a migrant family in Winnipeg, and where she has spent much of her life despite a love of travel and stints in other Canadian cities. Montreal is a microcosm of complex language interactions on the local level, at the same time as it is a “global city” (p. 3), albeit an “international middleweight” (p. 4). Woodsworth draws on the concept of global cities developed by sociologist Saskia Sassen (2005), who describes them as command points in an interconnected economic system that has emerged with globalization and the transnational flow of capital and information. As specialized service firms develop to manage and coordinate these transactions, they too become clustered in certain cities, concentrating wealth even further and exacerbating inequality (ibid., p. 29). Sassen notes that “so much of the focus has been on the neutralization of geography and place made possible by the new technologies” (ibid., p. 31), yet place-bound infrastructures remain necessary, as global cities are anchored in their specific histories and conditions. This in turn has led to “new claims on that space” (ibid., p. 39) by disadvantaged urban populations and the formation of networks of transnational activists working on environmental, human rights, and other causes (ibid., p. 32). However, Woodsworth points out that “[i]n describing the cross-border networks of globalization, Sassen identifies political, economic and cultural factors but does not explicitly address issues of language. […] This book is an attempt to address that …

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