Anthropology as translation: working misunderstandings?

Iracema Dulley (Federal University of Sao Carlos)
Massimiliano Lacertosa (SOAS University of London)
Start time:
23 July, 2016 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

This panel discusses the processes through which representations are produced in anthropological practice as translation. By focusing on ethnographic writing and visual media, it interrogates translation as a concept and practice in anthropology.

Long abstract:

The analogy between anthropology and translation is not new. Interestingly, it has been posed by authors espousing very different perspectives. If according to this idea anthropology represents in one sociocultural language something that is usually expressed in another, there are many ways in which translational work can be understood. Is translation, and thus anthropology, a working misunderstanding, as Sahlins would have it? To what extent is it possible to claim to represent in one's (sociocultural) language something that it does not contain? And is translation a relevant problem for anthropology or is it an irrelevant one, as affirmed by Lévi-Strauss on the translation of myth? By focusing on the representations produced in anthropological practice, such as ethnographic writing, photography, or film-making, this panel reflects on how the (in)commensurability of translation affects anthropological practice. It interrogates translation as a concept for making sense of anthropology's work of (dis)placement and discusses the implications of such a conceptual choice. Papers dealing with translation in a literal sense are also welcome.