Representation, history and the case of translation

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Journal article

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Journal of Arts and Ideas

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In our post-colonial context, translation becomes a site where questions of representation and history converge as we attempt to account for the practices of subjectification implicit in the colonial enterprise. By subjectification I mean the construction of a 'subject' through technologies or practices of power/knowledge, which are supported by a teleological concept of history that employs an idiom of progress and development. These technologies, I suggest, necessarily involve some notion of translation, a notion underpinned by the classical western concepts of representation, reality and knowledge. In what follows, I shall attempt to pose some of the theoretical questions we need to address in order to critique the complicity between the classical notion of representation and the durable nature of colonialist discourses. I contend that exploring the question of 'translation' can be one of the ways in which we can interrogate the concept of representation.

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Niranjana, T. (1989). Representation, history and the case of translation. Journal of Arts and Ideas, (17/18), 109-116.