Edited by Yves Gambier and Ubaldo Stecconi
[Benjamins Translation Library 145] 2019
► pp. 105–124
Chapter 5. From plagiarism to incense sticks
The making of self and the other in Thai translation history
Translation is not only a product of cultural exchange but also a process in which the senses of “self” versus “the other” are forged. History of cultural contacts in early modern Siam, or the Rattanakosindra period provides a lucid portrait of a country amidst the flux of encroaching globalization. Translation activities in Siam not only exhibit the formation of modern Siamese identity but also a demarcation of what is deemed foreign. The reciprocity of translation impact epitomizes the complex relationship Siam, later Thailand, has with other cultures. Siamese “vernacularization” of Indian and Chinese classics arrays translation as an act of straightforward, unproblematic appropriation, whereas the importation of European literature differs tremendously in how translators address the issue of authorship and fidelity. This report focuses on the crucial moments when Siam began to “translate” the West through several modes, ranging from open plagiarism, adaptation, proper translation, to overt literalism in the present days. These modes of translation show how the West as other is cast, and in turn throw light on how the modern Thai cultural self takes shape.