Tales Told Through Translation: The art that fosters shared imaginaries between translator and ethnographer identities

University essay from Lunds universitet/Avdelningen för etnologi

Abstract: Having spent so many of my free hours immersed in the worlds of translated fiction, I set out to create a research project designed to better understand the entanglements of the imagination behind this art. This thesis aims to explore how literary translators construct their identity and how multiple forces create instability in the professional self. It continues to dissect how these identities both impact, and are impacted by, literary imaginaries; the idea of other places as imagined through the literature they translate. Given the nature of this research and its close relation to literature, I present my thesis in a narrative form and discover the extent that fiction can be used in ethnography. Harnessing traditional qualitative data collection and presenting material via experimental ethnofictions, I demonstrate the bridge between scientific analysis and artistic praxis in the realm of translator identities. By understanding the pervasive invisibility process upon translators I contextualise the precarious nature of their sense of self in the publishing industry. Working with theories of the imagination I then explore their relation of the self with the other they translate. The knowledge and methodology developed in this thesis will help translators to navigate their field and create ideas for ethnographers to reflect on the nature of translation in their work.

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