Panel 36. Literary Translation and Soft Power in the Longue Durée

Conveners: Diana Roig Sanz, Elisabet Carbó, Lucía Campanella

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This panel focuses on the analysis of literary translation and soft power in the longue durée within the growing field of global translation history. Much has been written on literary translation and politics (Tymcozko & Gentzler 2002), but the potential of translation in terms of consolidating political formations and soft power has only recently been explicitly addressed (Batchelor 2019). We argue therefore that dialogue with disciplines such as international relations, cultural diplomacy or global history (von Flotow 2018; Carbó and Roig Sanz 2022, forth.) offers fertile ground to analyse the role of translation in shaping the ways a given culture is perceived abroad. As a corollary, this panel seeks to push further the interdisciplinary analysis of translation as a form of foreign action in nation-building processes, and historicize it from a longue durée, multilingual and decentred perspective. It also proposes to explore the ways literary translation intervenes in the consecration of a given culture/literature, and as a space where power struggles are manifested and renegotiated both on a textual and extratextual level. In this respect, we propose the following topics:

1. Theoretical proposals that can integrate multiple borrowings from other disciplines, from international relations and cultural diplomacy to global history or world literature, to think the ways literary translation can become a form of intervening in the political arena.

2. Methodological challenges in the analysis of literary translation and soft power (Nye 2004) across temporalities and multiple geographies.

3. Case studies from early modern to contemporary periods that can analyse how the Empire or the State intervene in the creation and manipulation of world literature through translation, or how foreign cultural policies promote translations through national institutes, embassies, cultural centres, foreign affairs ministers, or international institutions such as the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation or UNESCO.

4. The role of agents, both individual and collective, in the promotion of translations or as responsible of non-circulation. Reflections on how gender plays in this framework are particularly welcome.

Across these research lines, we also seek to encourage the discussion on the effects and reactions triggered by translations after they are published.

References

Batchelor, Kathryn (2019) “Literary translation and soft power: African literature in Chinese translation”, The Translator, 25:4, 401-419

Carbó-Catalan, Elisabet and Diana Roig-Sanz (Eds.) (forth. 2022) Culture as Soft Power. Bridging Cultural Relations, Intellectual Cooperation and Cultural Diplomacy. Berlin: De Gruyter. Accepted for publication.

Nye, Joseph S (2004). Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. New York: Public Affairs.

Tymoczko, Maria & Gentzler, Edwin (2002). Translation and Power. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

von Flotow, Luise (2018). “Translation and cultural diplomacy” in The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Routledge.

Presentations

Literary Translation as Soft Power. Theoretical and Methodological Insights. Elisabet Carbó-Catalan & Diana Roig Sanz

This paper focuses on the relation of literary translation and soft power in the longue durée within the growing field of global translation history. Much has been written on literary translation and politics (Tymcozko & Gentzler 2002), but the potential of translation in terms of consolidating political formations and soft power has only recently been explicitly addressed (Batchelor 2019). We argue that dialogue with disciplines such as international relations, translation studies, cultural diplomacy or global history (von Flotow 2018; Carbó and Roig Sanz 2022, forth.) offers fertile ground to analyse the role of translation in shaping the ways a given culture is perceived abroad. Thus, this paper aims at presenting the panel’s goal and pushing further the interdisciplinary analysis of translation as a form of foreign action in nation-building processes. In this respect, we aim at proposing: 1) a shared, novel and interdisciplinary theoretical framework at the crossroads of international cultural relations, translation studies and global literary studies, that will contribute to overcome previous disciplinary fragmentation and consider the common features, as well as the differences, of relevant undertakings that put translation at the chore of international relations and exchanges, and 2) an analysis of some mechanisms deployed by cultural organizations to establish cultural relations at different scales (local, national, regional, global), and over time, that will shed light into the relevant role of other regions, cities, localities, and less well-known actors in the development of different forms of intellectual cooperation between the local and the global. To do so, we will briefly present a state-of the art of current literature on this topic, as well as some theoretical proposals that integrate borrowings from other disciplines. Finally, we will give some examples from a case study based on the development of translation policies in the International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (1926-1946) and UNESCO with a specific focus on the role of agents, both individual and collective, in the promotion of translations.

 

References

Batchelor, Kathryn (2019) “Literary translation and soft power: African literature in Chinese translation”, The Translator, 25:4, 401-419

Carbó-Catalan, Elisabet and Diana Roig-Sanz (Eds.) (forth. 2022) Culture as Soft Power. Bridging Cultural Relations, Intellectual Cooperation and Cultural Diplomacy. Berlin: De Gruyter. Accepted for publication.

Nye, Joseph S (2004). Soft Power: The Means to Success in World Politics. New York: Public Affairs.

Tymoczko, Maria & Gentzler, Edwin (2002). Translation and Power. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

von Flotow, Luise (2018). “Translation and cultural diplomacy” in The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: Routledge.

The re-creation of the foreign. The gjendikting-concept and state-funded literature in Norway. Erlend Wichne

When the state-funded scheme for acquisition of literature was established in Norway in 1964, the concept of _gjendikting_ became determinant for what translated books were (and were not) acquired and further distributed to the public libraries in the country. Translations of poetry and of theatre written in verse were labeled “gjendiktninger” (“re-creations”/“translations”) and acquired through the scheme, while the Arts Council Norway, who administered the Norwegian Cultural Fund, had “not reached to work actively” with the support of other literature with foreign origins. Translations of other valuable foreign literature have later been acquired through different schemes, and then in connection with the more common translation concept of _oversettelse_ (“translation”; cf. ger. “Übersetzung”). While Norwegian book production has escalated since the establishment of the scheme, the concept of _gjendikting_ has been conventionalized in editorial practice, mainly as a label designating translation of poetry (Wichne, 2022). The institutionalization of the _gjendikting_-concept can be understood as process where a category pertaining to the literary field makes itself applicable for the field of power ‒ something which might be perceived as a sign of the relatively high symbolic value of literary capital (Bourdieu, 1998, p. 355). The translation concept of _gjendikting_ has been conceived as including a substantial artistic component, something which must be interpreted in relation to the high share of writers (often poets) being the re-creators/translators of such works (Wichne, 2022). This has affected what poetry that has been translated into Norwegian, where important literary actors have had the means to reproduce their esthetic preferences also in translation. The presentation will investigate how one particular Norwegian re-creator/translator mainly re-creating/translating poetry written by women in the Northern Sami language, positions herself in relation to the concept of _gjendikting_. The presentation builds upon autohor's doctoral project. Here he examined the position of the translation concept _gjendikting_ in Norway between 1872 and 2012, relying on the theoretical concept of _assumed translations_ from Descriptive Translation Studies (Halverson, 2008; Toury, 2012) and establishing a sociological method for investigating translation (Meylaerts, 2010).

 

References

Bourdieu, P. (1998). Les règles de l'art. Genèse et structure du champ littéraire (2 ed.). Paris: Éditions du Seuil.

Halverson, S. L. (2008). Translations as institutional facts*. An ontology for “assumed translation”. In M. Shlesinger, D. Simeoni, G. Toury, & A. Pym (Eds.). Y. Gambier (Series Ed.), Benjamins translation library. Beyond Descriptive Translation Studies: Investigations in Homage to Gideon Toury (Vol. 75, pp. 343-361).

Meylaerts, R. (2010). Habitus and self-image of native literary author-translators in diglossic societies. Translation and Interpreting Studies, 5(1), 1-19.

Toury, G. (2012). Descriptive translation studies - and beyond(2 ed., Vol. 100).

Wichne, E. (2022). Gjendikting på norsk, 1872-2012. Doctoral thesis. Departement of Foreign Languages and Translation. Universitetet of Agder. Kristiansand.

Female voices in translation and cultural soft power: State-sponsored translation of Chinese women’s literature in the late 20th century. Yijia Dong

The construction of ‘cultural soft power’ has been frequently raised by state-party officials in China as a significant cultural policy. Since the 1950s, the Chinese government has upheld literary translation as a crucial vehicle to disseminate culture and increase soft power. This has generated a large number of state-sponsored translation projects, such as the Chinese Literature magazine (1951-2000) and ‘Panda Books’ series (1981-2000), which introduced modern and contemporary Chinese literature to Anglophone audiences. English translations of some contemporary Chinese women’s writing were also included in these projects, and most of them were published as anthologies in which female identity was explicitly highlighted. This made gender a dimension in this official endeavour of constructing national narrative and exporting cultural products. The transcultural flow of female voices in this way presented an overall image of contemporary Chinese women and took part in the dissemination of national culture and value systems. Considering women’s issues and feminisms in China entered a dynamic era of developments and exchanges in the late 20th century, it is worthwhile investigating whether the emerging subjectivities of Chinese women during that period were manifested in the state-led literary translations. This paper takes volumes of Contemporary Chinese Women Writers (1982-1998) in the ‘Panda Books’ series as a case study, focusing on how female discourse plays a role in the institutional promotion of China’s cultural soft power. I will examine the principles of selecting contemporary women’s literary works promoted for translation, in order to find out how they manifest the goal of increasing national soft power. Moreover, I will probe into the reception of these anthologies in the Anglophone world, analysing whether translations of women’s writing commissioned and produced by the source culture can function in the target cultural system, with a further analysis of how Chinese women’s subjects were discursively (re)constructed as an aspect of China’s self-representation and cultural dissemination in this process of constructing soft power.

 

References

Barlow, T. 1994. Gender Politics in Modern China: Writing and Feminism. Durham: Duke University Press.

Chang, N. F. 2015. “Auto-image and norms in source-initiated translation in China”, Asia Pacific translation and intercultural studies, 2 (2), 96–107.

McDougall, B. S. 2011. Translation Zones in Modern China: Authoritarian Command versus Gift Exchange. Amherst, NY: Cambria Press.

Voci, P., and H. Luo, edited by. 2018. Screening China’s Soft Power. New York: Routledge.

Prizing European Values: The Case of the European Union Prize for Literature. Núria Codina & Jack McMartin

This paper examines the organizational make-up and consecratory practices of the EU Prize for Literature (EUPL) in order to better understand its role in promoting emerging European writers and European values such as multilingualism, cultural heritage and diversity. Drawing on concepts developed within the sociology of translation and on studies on the cultural policy of the European Union, the paper analyzes both the position of the EUPL in relation to other supranational consecration institutions as well as to similar EU-related prizes in the field of culture. We focus special attention on the EUPL’s promotional efforts to encourage the translation of winning books in (semi-peripheral) languages within and beyond the EU and examine the political valences of the prize through a textual analysis of the 2018 winners’ anthology European Stories. By analyzing the dynamics of circulation and nomination, we show how the prize actively shapes the borders of European cultural identity and acts as an instrument of soft power.

Discussion

Published May 20, 2022 4:31 PM - Last modified June 6, 2022 5:46 PM
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