Theorising translation as a process of ‘cultural repatriation’: A promising merger of narrative theory and Bourdieu’s theory of cultural transfer

Kalliopi Pasmatzi
University of York Europe Campus

This article scrutinises instances where translation corresponds to what I call ‘cultural repatriation’, through the examination of two Anglophone novels about the Greek civil war and their transfer into Greece. Translation as repatriation concentrates on works which are, effectively, repatriated into their original context and made vulnerable to its aesthetic and socio-ideological encounters. The translation of Gage’s Eleni (1983a) and de Bernières’s Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (1994) into Greek constitutes cultural repatriation as cultural representations in the works are constructed through a ‘foreign gaze’ and rendered problematic upon transfer. Within this context, I examine how specific strategies in the promotion, translation, and consumption of these works challenge or reinforce hegemonic versions and narrative modes of the historical narrative and lead to a renegotiation of the cultural categories constructed in them. Methodologically, the article combines Bourdieu’s sociology and narrative theory creating a robust framework for the study of cultural repatriation.

Publication history
Table of contents

The differences are so great between historical traditions […] that the application to a foreign cultural product of the categories of perception […] in the domestic field can actually create fictitious oppositions between similar things, and false parallels between things that are fundamentally different.

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