Introduction: Translation Matters


Why translation? Doesn’t this theme seem archaic in our present day? Yes, precisely. One could say that translation is an outdated topic but it also embodies an outdated mode of historical inquiry into shifting media environments and constant reconfigurations of values, beliefs and representations. It is outdated in regard to its immemorial relationship to sacred texts and its crucial role in the transnational circulation of ideas and cultural productions in a global cultural context. Yet translation – and the untranslatability it elicits and sometimes implies – has come to embody a relevant ethos for the humanities and operates as a “theoretical fulcrum” (Apter 3) across diverse discursive fields. Furthermore, if it might appear as somewhat archaic and out of phase with more fashionable concepts, the anachronism of this construct becomes the very quality of its contemporariness and foregrounds its epistemological relevance. In other words, translation matters more than ever in comparative intercultural theories and histories.

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