Edited by Luc van Doorslaer and Peter Flynn
[Benjamins Current Topics 54] 2013
► pp. 29–42
Continentalism and the invention of traditions in translation studies
This theoretical case study starts from a brief critical discussion of Eurocentrism in translation studies, underscoring the importance of the efforts toward a more inclusive, truly global and culturally balanced approach to translation which are increasingly being made in our field, often under the banner of “the international turn.” However, the rejection of Eurocentrism leaves open a wide range of alternative models and approaches, and this paper aims to show that the search for alternatives is not without its own difficulties. For example, it might be tempting for non-European scholars to derive an alternative way of thinking about translation from translational practices and discourses in their own continent that appear to be at odds with what is perceived as the “European” model of translation. A post-colonial sensibility would seem to make this an extremely attractive proposition. This is the line of thinking which inspired Edwin Gentzler’s Translation and Identity in the Americas. New Directions in Translation Theory (2008). The paper enters into a critical dialogue with Gentzler’s book in order to argue the general thesis that the replacement of one (perceived) continent-based paradigm by another (perceived) continent-based paradigm is not the best way forward, suffering as it does from a range of methodological problems. The best way to overcome Eurocentrism is not to construct and promote an American continentalism (“translation in the American sense”) as an alternative to it, or any other nationally or continentally defined concept of translation, for that matter.
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