Beyond the Spectacle: Translation and Solidarity in Contemporary Protest Movements

Mona Baker

This chapter maps out the space of translation within the political economy of contemporary protest movements, using the Egyptian Revolution as a case in point and extending the definition of translation to cover a range of modalities and types of interaction. It identifies themes and questions that arise out of the concrete experiences of activists mobilizing and reflecting on what it means to work for justice, both within and across borders, and to attempt to effect change at home while conversing with others who are fighting similar battles elsewhere. I argue that if our networks of solidarity are to become more effective and reflect the values of horizontality, non-hierarchy and pluralism that inform contemporary protest movements, translation, interpreting, subtitling and other forms of mediation must be brought to the centre of the political arena and conceptualized as integral elements of the revolutionary project. Translators, likewise, must be repositioned as full participants within non-hierarchical, solidary activist communities.

Mona Baker is Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Manchester. She is author of In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Routledge, 1992, second edition 2011) and Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account (Routledge, 2006), and editor or co-editor of several reference works, including the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies(1998/2009); the four-volume Critical Concepts: Translation Studies (Routledge, 2009)and Critical Readings in Translation Studies (Routledge, 2009). She is Founding Editor of The Translator (19952013), and Founding Vice- President of the International Association for Translation & Intercultural Studies.

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Video cited in this chapter:

Figure 1: Addition of #OccupyCabinet in the subtitles of a Mosireen documentary (at 0.02, see below)

Figure 1: Addition of #OccupyCabinet in the subtitles of a Mosireen documentary