Gender and violence in Argentinian contemporary women’s writing and English translation
For someone who is working on Argentinian literature in English translation, travelling to Finland for research purposes didn’t seem like a very straightforward decision. However, the Doctoral and Teacher-Training Translation Studies Summer School at the University of Tampere made it increasingly clear to me how much Latin American Studies and Translation Studies have in common. Both are concerned with intercultural exchange, which unfortunately often still implies asymmetrical relations between the cultures in question. Therefore, the focus on inequality and decolonial thinking that underpins the research of many SLAS members resonates with current research in Translation Studies. For example, TS recognises that languages and their respective literatures all stand in relation to each other, and that hegemonic languages push other languages into the periphery. It is important to note that this position is relative and dependent on context: although Argentinian literature has a certain prominence among the Hispanic literatures, it finds itself in a much more peripheral position from a global viewpoint. This comes as no surprise: it is estimated that translations only account for 3% of all the books published in English, which is considered the hypercentral language.
The position on the centre-periphery axis is thus indicative of the degree of visibility. The hegemonic position of the Anglophone book market and what Lawrence Venuti (1995) controversially called ‘ethnocentric violence’ against the source text in English translations erases the cultural and linguistic singularities of peripheral languages. Many summer school participants and lecturers came from smaller languages like Turkish, Slovene, Lithuanian, and Finnish, and highlighted successful examples of countering that hegemony. Similarly, Latin American studies tackles issues that lie at the heart of the discipline – like indigeneity, women’s rights, violence – in the same vein, namely by paying attention to the less privileged and the less visible, and by de- and reconstructing the language we use to talk about them.
I think this explains why it is valuable for me, a PhD student at a crossroads between Latin American studies and Translation Studies, to foster academic connections with both research communities. The DOTTSS also focused on meta skills, for instance by giving us the opportunity to deliver a Pecha Kucha presentation, where twenty slides are each displayed for only twenty seconds. In other words, I only had six minutes and forty seconds to introduce the audience to my research and convince them of its relevance. This forced me to zoom out and think of the bigger picture, which came at the right moment now that I am approaching the third year of my PhD. Maybe the most important takeaway from this summer school is the reminder that Latin American studies and Translation Studies both benefit immensely from interdisciplinary thinking. Drawing from the work of amazing scholars who paved the way, I hope my research will further promote the interaction between these disciplines.
About ‘Three Percent’. (n.d.). Three Percent. A Resource for International Literature at the University of Rochester. Retrieved 23 June 2023, from http://www.rochester.edu/College/translation/threepercent/about/
Anderson, A. (2013, May 14). Where Are the Women in Translation? Words Without Borders. The Home for International Literature. https://wordswithoutborders.org/read/article/2013-05/where-are-the-women-in-translation/
Sapiro, G. (2010). Globalization and cultural diversity in the book market: The case of literary translations in the US and in France. Poetics, 38(4), 419–439. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.poetic.2010.05.001
Heilbron, J. (1999). Towards a Sociology of Translation: Book Translations as a Cultural World-System. European Journal of Social Theory, 2(4), 429–444. https://doi.org/10.1177/136843199002004002
Venuti, L. (2008). The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (2nd ed.). Routledge. Original work published 1995.
Elisabeth Goemans is a second-year PhD student at the University of Edinburgh. Her research focuses on gender and violence in Argentinian contemporary women’s writing and English translation. Thanks to the postgraduate research support grant from SLAS, she was able to attend a two-week summer school in Translation Studies at the University of Tampere, Finland.