Translation and the Genealogy of Conflict
  • ISSN 1569-2159
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9862
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Translation has played a major role alongside original literature in each of the South African languages in aiding the construction of their cultural and literary identities. Because of apartheid (literally, ‘apartness’), Afrikaans carried a political burden and literary authors in this language were considered the protectors of Afrikaner cultural and national identity. After outlining the historical origins and the consolidation of apartheid, this paper charts the emergence of a versetliteratuur (‘protest literature’) movement among disillusioned Afrikaans authors during the apartheid era. Growing censorship and the first banning of an Afrikaans novel under the 1974 Publications and Entertainment Act led to translation and self-translation (into English) being used as a tool of resistance by Afrikaans writers against the ideology of apartheid. The paper moves on to explore the effects of apartheid-imposed conflict on other authors such as South African authors writing in English. It then focuses on the ideological agenda informing the language policy-makers’ and Africanists’ selection of books to be translated into African languages, as part of the government’s attempts to promote mother tongue education in African schools and thus perpetuate the segregation of black South Africans. The concluding section discusses how changes in political life since 1990 have influenced the use of translation in South African literature.


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