Research Online


Goldsmiths - University of London

Imagining Otherness: On Translation, Harm and Border Logic

Maitland, Sarah. 2017. Imagining Otherness: On Translation, Harm and Border Logic. The Translator, ISSN 1355-6509 [Article] (Submitted)

No full text available
[img] Text
Sarah Maitland - Imagining Otherness - On Translation, Harm and Border Logic.docx - Submitted Version
Permissions: Administrator Access Only

Download (66kB)

Abstract or Description

Can translation do harm to the other? As a form of intercultural outreach across a distance of time and space between the historical moment a text enjoys and the knowledges and expectations of the translator’s future audience, translation creates a difference between the translator as representing subject and the text as object of representation. If translation starts with a lack of understanding between the language that is ‘own’ and the language that is ‘other’, then it follows that translation is an identification process based on the perception of a borderland that separates them. For this reason, translation is concerned with the domain of the imagination: with our recognition of something that is ‘other’ to our own domain of understanding. These ideas, rooted in the plane of philosophical discourse, find their analogue in the domain of identity politics and the notion of ‘recognition’. How we recognise difference – that is, the extent to which the identity of others is included or excluded from our horizon of representation – can be fundamental to their quality of life. To imagine another, to conceptualise one’s position in relation to them, is to represent difference along a sliding scale of esteem and disdain, accommodation and rejection. By pursuing connections between disparate discussions of representation and identity politics, this article considers the determining role that translation plays in according value to others. Taking as a starting point the productive notion of the ‘border’, it argues for a way of conceiving of the translation process as a primary site of human interaction that is shaped and challenged by the world-making quality of the language that we use.

Item Type:


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


4 July 2017Submitted

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

23 Jul 2018 13:58

Last Modified:

06 Mar 2019 15:09


View statistics for this item...

Edit Record Edit Record (login required)