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Transnational and translational: The Translation Function of Area Studies by Doris Bachmann-Medick

News from Apr 24, 2015


This working paper discusses current and historical translation functions of Area Studies and worldwide Regional Studies. On the one hand, translation is examined as a cultural technique to deal with cultural differences. On the other hand, translation is pushed as a scientific category for analysis, which goes beyond the traditional mediation function of regional know-how. More specifically, it leads to a repositioning of Area Studies in worldwide exchange relationships. The awareness of exchange relationships allows to reconsider the concept of regions and to gain insight into trans-regional linkages based on concrete zones of translation. In consequence, dichotomies such as global-local, universal-particular are diminished, and (colonialist-shaped) power inequalities as well as new ways of knowledge discovery are taken into account – not considering the contrast of general-disciplinary and regional-based knowledge. The aim of such a translational approach is to highlight the joints for cooperative production of knowledge and for reciprocal translation in global scientific communication – which finally do relativize critically the own concepts of analysis and questions whether universal concepts in fact can be translated.

You may find the entire working paper here.