Activist Translation at the ‘(Semi)Periphery’ of Europe: The Politics of Translation and Feminist Knowledge Production
University of Ottawa, Canada
Abstract: This paper examines the notion of the politics of translation at the intersection of translation studies and transnational feminism. My research is informed by translation studies scholarship that places gender and feminism at the centre of its inquiry, but also by feminist scholarship that more recently has been calling for a closer examination of the politics of translation in feminist knowledge production. The paper focuses on one specific case study, the Serbian translation of the American feminist health classic Our Bodies, Ourselves (1971), published in 2001 by a group of feminist activists in Belgrade, Serbia. Since its publication in the United States, Our Bodies, Ourselves has been a key feminist text in the areas of women’s health and women’s reproductive rights in the American feminist movement, and has been translated into more than 30 languages since the 1970s (Davis 2007). The case study centres on the work of a group of feminist activists who translated Our Bodies, Ourselves into Serbian in the 1990s against the background of the Yugoslav wars and socio-political and economic upheavals. By analyzing the case study of the Serbian translation, the paper sheds light 1) on the role of activist translation in feminist knowledge production, and 2) on the ways in which geopolitics influences translation flows and the politics of translation. The case study offers an in-depth analysis of an ambiguous transfer of feminist knowledge from a Western country, the ‘centre’, to a post-socialist, post-conflict Eastern European country at the ‘periphery’ or ‘semiperiphery’ (Blagojevic 2009; Wolff 1994). The paper elaborates on the notion of the politics of translation and argues for a more critical look at geopolitical influences on feminist knowledge production and transnational feminist solidarity building.
Keywords: politics of translation; activist translation; feminist knowledge production; Our Bodies, Ourselves; Serbia.
Bio: Anna Bogic holds a PhD in women’s studies from the Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies and a master’s degree from the School of Translation and Interpretation, the University of Ottawa. Her research areas include feminist translation, sociology of translation, women’s reproductive rights, and post-socialist studies. Her doctoral dissertation is a study of the politics of feminist translation and reproduction in post-Socialist Serbia, while her master’s thesis focused on the English translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex.