CAS WP 1/2015
Transnational und translational:
Zur Übersetzungsfunktion der Area Studies
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 identified as an analytical category – a category for a research practice, which goes beyond its traditional function: the transmission of regional know-hows. More specifically, it leads to a repositioning of Area Studies in globalized exchanges. By devoting new attention to translation relationships it allows reconsidering the concept of regions; and it helps to gain more concrete insights into trans-regional linkages and entanglements based on concrete zones of translation. In consequence, dichotomies such as globallocal, universal-particular are avoided, and (colonialist-shaped) power inequalities as well as new ways of acquiring knowledge are taken into account – above and beyond the opposition between a general-disciplinary and a specific regional-based knowledge. The aim of the translational approach advocated here is to highlight the interfaces in the cooperative production of knowledge and to draw attention to reciprocal translations in global scientific communication – while putting our own concepts of analysis into a critical perspective and question whether concepts claiming to be universal can be translated at all.