Translation in Wartime

Vicente Rafael
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“Translation looks two ways. It opens up a passage, drawing near what at the same time will always remain afar."— Vicente L. Rafael, “Translation in Wartime”
  Vicente L. Rafael is Professor of History and Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Washington. Renowned for the reach, breadth, and robust cosmopolitanism of his scholarship, Rafael works across three languages and three centuries of modern empire. The author of numerous books, including The Promise of the Foreign (2005), White Love and Other Events in Filipino History (2000), and Contracting Colonialism (1993), Rafael focuses on modernity, nationalism, colonialism, and post-colonialism in global history and for the global present. Rafael’s lecture will inquire into the historical, political, and pragmatic relationship between translation and empire. Drawing attention to the complex ethics of translation practices, he examines how iterations of translation consolidate and confound imperial projects. Through a consideration of the language initiatives and policies attending the so-called War on Terror, Rafael probes the ways in which the demand for translation induces and intensifies the war of meanings, the confusion of address, and the crisis of identities in U.S.–occupied Iraq. This talk was delivered on January 31, 2008 at the University of Washington. This file is made available courtesy of the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington.