Translation and Subjectivity
On Japan and Cultural Nationalism
E-Book: 258 pages
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An excursion across the boundaries of language and culture, this provocative book suggests that national identity and cultural politics are, in fact, “all in the translation”. Translation, we tend to think, represents another language in all its integrity and unity. Naoki Sakai turns this thinking on its head, and shows how this unity of language really only exists in our manner of representing translation. In analyses of translational transactions and with a focus on the ethnic, cultural, and national identities of modern Japan, he explores the cultural politics inherent in translation.
Through the schematic representation of translation, one language is rendered in contrast to another as if the two languages are clearly different and distinct. And yet, Sakai contends, such differences and distinctions between ethnic or national languages (or cultures) are only defined once translation has already rendered them commensurate. His essays thus address translation as a means of figuring (or configuring) difference. They do so by looking at discourses in various historical contexts: post-WWII writings on the emperor system; Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s dictee; and Watsuji Tetsuro’s anthropology.