Living Translation

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‘At a time when the humanities are expected to genuflect before the sciences, and when privatization and professionalization displace knowledge, Spivak urges us not only to stand tall but to insist that ethical solidarities are only possible through the rigorous training of the imagination.’—Angela Davis

Living Translation performs the invaluable service of gathering for the first time Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s wide-ranging writings on translation. In this volume, we can see in sharp relief the extent to which, throughout her long career, she has made translation a central concern of the comparative humanities.

Starting with her landmark “Translator’s Preface” to Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology in 1976, and continuing with her “Foreword” to Mahasweta Devi’s “Draupadi” and “Afterword” to Devi’s Chotti Munda and His Arrow, Spivak tackled translatability as such from the ground up and at the political limit; at border checkpoints, at sites of colonial pedagogy, in acts of resistance to monolingual regimes of national language, at the borders of minor literature and schizo-analysis, in the deficits of cultural debt and linguistic expropriation, and, more generally, at theory’s edge, which is to say, where practical criticism yields to theorizing in Untranslatables. This volume also addresses how Spivak’s institution-building as director of Comparative Literature at the University of Iowa—and in her subsequent places of employment—began at the same time.

From this perspective, Spivak takes her place within a distinguished line-up of translator-theorists that includes Walter Benjamin, George Steiner, Jacques Derrida, Binoy Majumdar, François Cheng, Louis-Jean Calvet, Samuel Weber, Susan Bassnett, Abdelfattah Kilito, Barbara Cassin, Abdessalam Benabdelali, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, François Jullien, Lydia Liu, and Lydia Davis—all of them particularly attuned to the processes of cognizing in languages, all of them alive to the co-productivity of thinking, translating, writing.


“Foreword” by Emily Apter

“Preface: Earliest Engagements with Translation: Institution-Building” by Aron Aji and Maureen Robertson

Politics of Translation

Translator’s Preface to Of Grammatology by Jacques Derrida

The Politics of Translation

Cultures of Translation

Translation as Culture

Translating into English

The Most Intimate Act of Reading

Translator’s Foreword to “Draupadi” by Mahasweta Devi

Translator’s Afterword to Chotti Munda and His Arrow by Mahasweta Devi

Necessary, Yet Impossible

Questioned on Translation: Adrift

Necessary, Yet Impossible

What Is It, Then, to Translate?

Teaching, Learning, Unlearning Translation

Translation in the Undergraduate Curriculum

Scattered Speculations on Translation Studies

Translating in a World of Languages


Teaching Black Skin

“Afterword: Translating the Planet?” by Avishek Ganguly

“Gramsci and Spivak: Politics of Translation” by Mauro Pala


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ISBN: 9781803091136
Pages: 308
Publication Year: February 2022
Rights: UCP
Size: 6" x 9"
Format: Paperback
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