Politics of Translation: Translation, Nation, and Gender – Online Colloquium

bgeorge Events

September 1-2, 2022

Palace Moise, Cres (Croatia)
Full Schedule

Zoom link:
Meeting ID: 899 3568 8735
Passcode: 357666

Translation is political because it is a relation, a context of negotiating power. It also dictates an epistemological approach, inviting a complex analysis of gender, class, race, or national and other hierarchies’ relations and intersection. It is the opportunity for transformation, for becoming other (devenir autre, Deleuze and Guattari), although the political quality of that devenir is never guaranteed. As the occasion for a metamorphosis, translation is what Étienne Balibar now, since the conservative revolution that shattered (also) our knowledge system, calls communism. As a praxis of theory or political activism, translation may have to deal with violence when aiming at changes in society or the state.

The presupposition is that, within the plural and diverse knowledges, there is no definitive knowledge, but only temporary proposals of consecutive understandings. The concept of reciprocally incomplete knowledges (Boaventura de Sousa Santos) becomes useful here. Any war is a situation of the collapse of (peaceful and acceptable) translation. As far as Europe is concerned (but the same pattern appears elsewhere, too), the field of a most striking crisis in translation has recently been not only the current war in Ukraine but, above all, the previous systemic rejection of refugees and migrants.

Linking gender and nation is a necessary feature of translation studies. The vocabulary of nation and nationality is directly derived from gender stereotypes and the capacity of birth-giving of some humans. All language of inequality is embedded in basic gender discrimination, as the oldest and most consensual dogma of patriarchy and coloniality. Verónica Gago shows how the political space of struggles has spilt across borders and political issues through the green tide of feminist activism in Argentina and elsewhere, starting from the struggle for the right to abortion rendered political by the mass movement.

Our conceptual apparatus ordaining knowledge is isomorphic with our social organisation and hierarchies. The double front of gender is apparent. The universalisation of a nationalist paradigm is only its narcissistic over-inflation and provincialisation. Everything else is rendered illegitimate and erased from mainstream consensus. It becomes “useless history.” Social and state inertia tend to include women as subordinate and to exclude or marginalize categories of “outsiders.” There is an infinite variety of such patterns and the capacity of coloniality-patriarchy-capitalism, as a complex (Silvia Federici), to adapt and keep going, also with the help of nationalism.

Participants will reflect on these and other issues linked to the politics of translation.