Publication details [#21062]

Dimitriu, Ileana. 2010. Activism and the intensity of the local: translation, cultural politics and the East European “Other”. In Maier, Carol and Julie Boéri, eds. Translation/interpreting and social activism / Compromiso social y traducción/interpretación. Granada: ECOS. pp. 48–58.
Publication type
Article in jnl/bk
Publication language


Based on recent debates around translation and power – e.g. Gentzler and Tymoczko’s (2002) “power turn” and Wolf’s “social turn” (2006) – the author explores the link between translation as textual construct and as activist praxis beyond the text. The author makes use of the case of Eastern Europe, and more specifically of Romania. After an introduction discussing translation as social practice, the author reflects on the impact of communist dictatorship on the cultural scene, and analyses aspects of strong counter-reactions to state control, particularly through translated literature. Because of its high status – what Bourdieu would call “symbolic power” (1992) – literary translation implicitly contributed to subversively destabilising the monologic and dominant discourse of the communist dictatorships, more precisely, via the material that got translated. In the second part of the paper, the author outlines the new type of interaction between the social field and the translation field after the radical political change of 1989. In the post-dictatorial times of today, translation has become a pragmatic and fully aboveground player, no longer a subversive agent of social restructuring. There is a move now towards a diversification of translated text-types (beyond the literary) – meant to help people rejoin the Western knowledge market – as well as towards protecting the local in the face of globalisation. In the light of such projects, the paper considers cultural activism a crucial element of a responsible world citizenship that also strives to preserve the integrity of local identities against global erasure. [Based on abstract in book]