Title

A polysystemist’s response to prescriptive cultural relativism and postcolonialism

Document Type

Journal article

Source Publication

Across Languages and Cultures

Publication Date

6-2017

Volume

18

Issue

1

First Page

133

Last Page

154

Publisher

Akademiai Kiado Rt.

Keywords

polysystem theory, postcolonialism, cultural relativism, universalism, Eurocentrism, intersubjectivity

Abstract

Translation studies and other disciplines in the humanities have become increasingly politicized as scholars act on the presumption that the dominance of Western theories is the result of power differentials rather than academic merit. This postcolonialist mindset is based on the claim that cultures are equally valid, but there are objective and cross-culturally intersubjective standards for comparing certain aspects of cultures. The problems with such prescriptive cultural relativism are that the nation-state is regarded as the only legitimate unit of culture, that national differences are overemphasized, and that an “is” is turned into an “ought.” Built on these misconceptions, postcolonialism challenges the political establishment in central countries but serves as an excuse to suppress the demand for progress from peripheral sectors in peripheral cultures. The attempt to export postcolonialism, a culture-specific theory, to the whole world is thus itself a colonialist act.

DOI

10.1556/084.2017.18.1.6

Print ISSN

15851923

E-ISSN

15882519

Publisher Statement

Copyright © 2017 Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest. Access to external full text or publisher's version may require subscription.

Full-text Version

Publisher’s Version

Recommended Citation

Chang, N. F. (2017). A polysystemist’s response to prescriptive cultural relativism and postcolonialism. Across Languages and Cultures, 18(1), 133-154. doi: 10.1556/084.2017.18.1.6

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