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Translation in a global world is not only literary but also profoundly performative, embedded in how ideas and gestures, sounds and voices transform and move. We draw from dominant theorizations about translation as literary work and rise up to the challenge of thinking translation performatively, within a theatrical setting and beyond, as a medium, a mode and a method. Our inter-related arguments therefore sit at the intersection of three disciplinary (or interdisciplinary) formations – Comparative Literature, Translation Studies and Theatre and Performance Studies – even as they attempt to bridge another set of enduring divides, between theoretical and practical approaches to translation, between Theatre and Performance Studies. In sum, we argue that performance emerges as a generative and indispensable frame and method for thinking translation as an act that is not only transdisciplinary but also necessarily trans-medial.
This global overview of how translation is understood as a performative practice across genres, media and disciplines illuminates the broad impact of the 'performance turn' in the arts and humanities. Combining key concepts in comparative literature, performance studies and translation theory, the volume provides readers with a dynamic account of the ways in which these fields fruitfully interact. The chapters display interdisciplinary thinking in action across a wide spectrum of performance practices and media from around the world, from poetry and manuscripts to theatre surtitles, audio description, archives, installations, dialects, movement and dance. Paying close attention to questions of race, gender, sexuality, embodiment and accessibility, the collection's rich array of methodological approaches and experiments with scholarly writing demonstrate how translation as a performative practice can enrich our understanding of language and politics.
This wide-ranging conversation, for the first time, attempts to trace possible resonances between Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s thinking of translation going all the way back to her influential essay The Politics of Translation published 25 years ago, and various ideas of performance. She begins by saying that the question might be more complex than simply positing a relationship between translation and performance. Instead, she refers the reader/listener first to Derrida’s notion of spacing as the place to begin thinking about non-languaged aspects of meaning-making (approaching, in this sense, the spatial, non-verbal attributes of theatre and performance), and as such the work of death; and second, to the idea that translation takes place after the death of the sonic/phonic body of language. The interview ends by way of Spivak’s reflections on her experience of translating a play, the futures of créolité, and the pitfalls of machine translation.