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Distributed for HAU

Translating Worlds

The Epistemological Space of Translation

Distributed for HAU

Translating Worlds

The Epistemological Space of Translation

Set against the backdrop of anthropology’s recent focus on various “turns” (whether ontological, ethical, or otherwise), this pathbreaking volume returns to the question of knowledge and the role of translation as a theoretical and ethnographic guide for twenty-first century anthropology, gathering together contributions from leading thinkers in the field.

Since Ferdinand de Saussure and Franz Boas, languages have been seen as systems whose differences make precise translation nearly impossible. And still others have viewed translation between languages as principally indeterminate. The contributors here argue that the challenge posed by the constant confrontation between incommensurable worlds and systems may be the most fertile ground for state-of-the-art ethnographic theory and practice. Ranging from tourism in New Guinea to shamanism in the Amazon to the globally ubiquitous restaurant menu, the contributors mix philosophy and ethnography to redefine translation not only as a key technique for understanding ethnography but as a larger principle in epistemology.  

338 pages | 5 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015

Special Issues in Ethnographic Theory

Anthropology: Cultural and Social Anthropology

Language and Linguistics: General Language and Linguistics

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"Translating Worlds stems from a 2014 conference on “Cognition and Cultural Translation.” It includes ten papers, plus the introduction. Taken together, the introduction and the papers by Hanks, Bruce Mannheim, John Leavitt, and G. E. R. Lloyd provide a general discussion of some issues in translation theory that are salient at the intersection of anthropology and linguistics."

Richard Handler | Reviews in Anthropology

"This pioneering anthology reminds us that translation sits at the very heart of anthropology. . . . Throughout the chapters, an abundance of fascinating ethnographic examples of translation processes are brought forward . . . . Although each chapter engages with different arguments relating to ontology, mimesis, and other contemporary debates in anthropology, they all converge in a concerted thesis. . . . After having turned the last and  324th page of this comprehensive anthology, I find myself a good deal more familiar with classic language theory (Jakobson, Saussure, Boas, Sapir, etc.) as well as state-of-the-art linguistic anthropology in which several of the contributors must be considered spearheads. There are next to no shortcoming to put one's finger on in this book . . . . I would not hesitate to call this a masterpiece of great relevance to any ethnographer whose struggles with translating has piqued her or his curiosity about the epistemological space of translation."


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