Book reviewTranslation Theory and Development Studies: A Complexity Theory Approach (Routledge Advances in Translation Studies 4). xiv, 232 pp.New York: Routledge, 2014. .
Reviewed by Stefan Baumgarten
For René Descartes, one of the instigators of modern rationality, ideas are more powerful when separated from their materiality. This predicament holds truer than ever in our troubled postmodern times, and it remains a lex non scripta in large parts of the humanities and sciences, at least over the last 400 years or so. Kobus Marais’ admirable study of the politics of translation in South Africa is well-grounded philosophically, and it deserves the highest praise for its erudition, methodological rigour, and its passionate plea for the establishment of a coherent research programme to study translation from new theoretical angles and within a pan-African context. The author’s critique of a certain lack of philosophical self-reflection in translation studies is valid, and his probing enquiries into institutional translation practices in South Africa constitute a major step forward in establishing debates on language policy and translation in the so-called Global South. This book will also surely establish itself as a prominent point of reference for the evaluation and comparison of language rights on a global level.