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Audacious Translation: Learning the Double Bind to Translate Spivak

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In Chapter 12 of An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalization (2012), Spivak eludes apprehension, spurns comprehension, and resists neat translation as I, an American educator, feebly reaches and grasps to make sense of what is meant by an aesthetic education as Spivak translates the act of translation. Caught and othered in learning the double bind of translation, I find no answers, only new questions as I grope toward ways to conceptualize and to name this moment for language educators:

  • Can and should the convenient genie of English as the language of power and globalization be pushed back into the bottle to make room for linguistic diversity?
  • What is essentially lost in translation when indigenous languages are abandoned and no longer nuanced with meaning, when “lingual memory” is no longer available or when younger generations prefer to have their imaginations played with, rather than do the strenuous play of imagination?
  • What does it mean to be a translator?


This is an electronic copy of a conference paper pending revision for publication in Critical Theory. Archived with permission. The author(s) reserves all rights.