Communism and Translation Studies

Ioana Popa
National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), Paris

Table of contents

Rooted in an internationalist ideology and having deployed itself on what was intended as a worldwide scale, Communism has inspired a rich multidisciplinary historiography. By means of state control, nationalisation, planning, ideological constraints and censorship, Communist regimes deeply transformed the functioning of cultural production in the countries where they came to power. They also determined the international circulation of works, favouring it according to political criteria of selection; or on the contrary, curbing or preventing it through various forms of control, when not repression. In addition to which the circulation of works was elaborated as a tool of the Cold War by geopolitical rival camps. Strangely enough, however, translation, one of its main vectors, has for the most part until quite recently been neglected by this historiography. This is all the more true of the practice of interpretation. Studies dealing with the cultural history or with a historical sociology of Communism and the Cold War have only recently been enriched by a reflection on translation, particularly monographs on the subject (Friedberg 1997; Popa 2010). Likewise, in the domain of Translation Studies, collective works on the relations between translation and ideology, power, resistance and activism have only on occasion included case studies (Baer 2010, for example) on this particular socio-historic context (see also Committed approaches and activism). Collective works on censorship through translation have however devoted somewhat more research (Thomson-Wohlgemuth 2007; Špirk 2008; Gallagher 2009; Rădulescu 2010) to this particular period. This subject seems to have inspired the most individual contributions so far.

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