Volume 14, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1932-2798
  • E-ISSN: 1876-2700
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This article investigates the experience of Dutch interpreters of Chinese in the Dutch East Indies (present-day Indonesia) from the mid-nineteenth century until Indonesia’s independence nearly a century later. In the colonial context, the task of interpreters went beyond orally translating speech. They also served as cultural mediators, who prevented conflicts and resolved misunderstandings. Based on theories of interpreting in colonial contexts, the cases in this study will probe the interpreters’ training, their allegiances, and their search for neutrality. The findings reveal that, in the period from 1860 to 1912, the interpreters tried to mediate for the government by resolving problems and misunderstandings, despite their limited authority. However, in the period from 1913 to 1949, the interpreters had less room to maneuver, as a result of changes in training as well as in the work environment of the Dutch East Indies.


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