Translating the World
Economic globalization today is far more advanced than cultural globalism. We eat more avocados from Peru and mangos from Pakistan than we read books from Lima or Karachi. Goods have become ubiquitous, texts from the global South remain a scarce commodity. Thus the translation of the Other continues to be both a political challenge and an urgent necessity to counter the dominance of cultural production in a few urban centers and the hegemony of a few languages of the world.
The otherness of a text makes it particularly fascinating but at the same time difficult to translate. Language is malleable, but also strict, a partner in smuggling content from the outside and a customs officer imposing duties. Unfortunately, translators have until now usually been overlooked in academic and literary discourse, mostly because they are misunderstood as invisible facilitators and not respected as important interlocutors. In the dominant hierarchy of intellectual import/export an absolute value has been attributed to the original. The translation was expected to blend into the background of a new environment like a butler. In reality, every translation is not only a work of art or an academic achievement in itself, but a complex blend of awareness, sensibility and knowledge. It is a double exposure that enables us to enter an unfamiliar and incomprehensible space of thought and evocation.
The translators are the unsung heroes of many cultural aspirations: plurality, diversity, exchange and the age-old ideal of universalism. This program has been set up to support and encourage their work at the IWM.
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This program has been launched in 2021. This year the IWM will host three translators, by invitation.