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What's in a word? Problematizing translation between languages

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An increasing number of geographers conduct research in foreign languages. Since the representation of research still largely takes place in English, we are inevitably confronted with the challenge of translation. All too often, however, translation is treated as a fait accompli and conceptual black box without problematizing the very act of translation as both political and highly subjective. In this paper I argue that critical translation must grapple not only with the semantic issues of translation but especially with the institutionalization of a naturalized meaning hegemony. This involves teasing out the political exclusions of translation as well as addressing the agency of the translating geographer. By way of practical examples I suggest paths to achieve such a critical treatment of translation.

Keywords: critical research; field research; hegemony; language; translation

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: June 1, 2007

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