Translation: Mending the Wounds of Colonialism

Kattan, Emmanuel; Hunter-Hart, Monica Beatrice; Ali, Abdibasid

As our societies in Europe and America struggle with economic inequality, police violence and social injustice, it is quite clear that we are still dealing with the long-term after effects of colonialism and historic racism. This power imbalance is visible in the cultures we inhabit and the languages we speak. Of the 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, half are endangered and may disappear by the end of the century. In fact, we are losing one language every two weeks. How do we ensure not only that languages survive, but that no one language rules over the others? How can languages interact on a basis of mutual respect rather than domination and supremacy? In this new episode of Vis A Vis, I speak to Columbia philosophy professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne, who has long thought about these issues. In his latest book, De langue à langue: L’hospitalité de la traduction(From language to language: The hospitality of translation), he describes translation as an antidote to colonialism and to the asymmetric power relations it creates. Translation, he claims, forces us to take a step back from our own language, in order to welcome the Other in our midst and open a pathway to our common humanity.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Vis a Vis
Published Here
May 23, 2024


This episode's duration is: 29:50