Cultural translation is a concept with competing definitions coming from two broad fields, anthropology/ethnography and cultural/postcolonial studies. In anthropology, it usually refers to the act of describing for members of one cultural community how members of another interpret the world and their place in it. In cultural studies, it usually refers to the different forms of negotiation that people engage in when they are displaced from one cultural community into another, or it refers to the displacement itself. In both cases, scholars have typically explained the term's use by pointing out that “translation” derives from the Latin translātus, the past participle of transferre, meaning “to carry across.” (Scholars who cite non-Latin etymologies are exceedingly rare.) What is “carried across,” however, varies by field. For anthropologists, foreign cultures are “carried across” to domestic readers in textual form, as described in articles and books, while for cultural studies scholars, what is “carried across” is not so much culture as it is the people who leave their place of origin and enter a new locale, bearing their culture with them.
1986“The concept of cultural translation in British cultural anthropology.” In Writing Culture: The Poetics and Politics of Ethnography, Clifford James & George E. Marcus (eds), 141–164. Berkeley: University of California Press. TSB
Buden, Boris & Nowotny, Stefan
2009“Cultural translation: An introduction to the problem.”Translation Studies 2 (2): 196–208. TSB
1970“Concepts and society.” In Rationality, Bryan R. Wilson (ed.), 18–49. New York: Harper and Row.
1993“The art of translation in a continuous world.” In Beyond Boundaries: Understanding, Translation, and Anthropological Discourse, Gísli Pálsson (ed.), 210–230. Providence: Berg.
Jordan, Shirley Ann
2002“Ethnographic encounters: The processes of cultural translation.”Language and Intercultural Communication 2 (2): 96–110. BoP
1954“Modes of thought.” In The Institutions of Primitive Society: A Series of Broadcast Talks, E.E. Evans-Pritchard (eds), 95–107. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
2002“Fearful asymmetries: a manifesto of cultural translation.”Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association 35 (2): 5–12.
2007“Translating culture vs. cultural translation.” In In Translation—Reflections, Refractions, Transformations, Paul St-Pierre & Prafulla C. Kar (eds), 277–287. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John BenjaminsBoP.
2003“Translating Derrida on translation: Relevance and disciplinary resistance.”Yale Journal of Criticism 16 (2): 237–262. TSB
Further essential reading
1994The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge.
2012“A Conceptual and Empirical Approach to Cultural Translation.”Translation Studies 5 (3): 264–279. TSB
1973The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Readings. New York: Basic.
2012Cosmopolitanism and Culture. London: Polity.
Translation Studies forum on cultural translation, vols. 2 (2) in 2009 and 3 (1) and 3 (3) in 2010.