The translaborative case for a translational hermeneutics

Alexa Alfer

This paper takes the notion of translaboration as a stepping stone for an exploration of some of the recent debates about translational hermeneutics. In doing so, it aims to expand translaboration’s focus beyond concrete collaborations between multiple translators, or authors and translators, and to think about, and theorise, translaboration as a possible means of framing textual agents reading and writing each other within texts. The argument presented draws on both Hans-Georg Gadamer’s and Paul Ricoeur’s conceptions of the individual subject as interpretative agent, and of translation as an object of philosophical enquiry, and adopts the concept of a “hermeneutics of decipherment” (Maitland 2017, 38) as an alternative to dialogic models of understanding and translating. Similarly, the relationship between philosophical and translational hermeneutics is interrogated and recast as a translaborative endeavour rather than as an immediately reciprocal dialogue. Translaboration, this paper argues, thus also actively furthers the move away from what Blumczynski (2016, 29) calls “an arborescent epistemological paradigm” of interdisciplinarity and contributes to animating a transdisciplinarity that is fundamentally “rhizomatic” (ibid.; see Deleuze and Guattari 2004) in nature.

Publication history
Table of contents

A central aim behind the ‘blended’ concept (Fauconnier and Turner 1998) of translaboration has been to provide a framework for exploring and articulating connections, comparisons and confluences between translation and collaboration, positing these as inherently allied notions. At its most basic level, translaboration acknowledges “the reality that, for better or worse, translation is frequently collaborative in nature” (Jansen and Wegener 2013, 5). More broadly, however, translaboration also responds to the more fundamental insight that, as Cordingley and Frigau Manning (2017, 23) put it,

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