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How Eurocentric is Europe?

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Abstract

Conceptualizations of translation are often cast in the literature in terms of sets of hegemonic dualities played out across lines of continuous and perhaps irresolvable dominance and resistance in all areas touched on by translation: language, power, ethnicity, gender, etc. This paper will attempt to trace trajectories of thought and inquiry within Translation Studies in order to discover to which extent certain approaches and models can be considered (strictly) as Western, Eurocentric and hence as propagating a priori such power and other imbalances. In this respect, the article argues for a situated approach to understanding the use of certain analytical concepts in given cultural spaces. It further argues that concepts and models be viewed in combination and in contrast with ethnographic studies of translation practices. It therefore asserts that translational practices should be explored on the ground in order to complement and adjust scholarly conceptualizations of translation in the broadest sense. Ethnographic studies of the field allow us to discover the impact of practices on (or in the construction of) a given cultural space or on other practices visible in the same space. This further helps us explore differences between these practices, along with their theoretical underpinnings, and those held by scholars in the same space. Data drawn from an ethnographic study of literary translators in the Netherlands and Belgium will be used to discuss some of the points outlined above.

References

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