Postcolonial untranslatability: reading Achille Mbembe with Barbara Cassin

Syrotinski, M. (2019) Postcolonial untranslatability: reading Achille Mbembe with Barbara Cassin. Journal of Postcolonial Writing, 55(6), pp. 850-862. (doi:10.1080/17449855.2019.1681192)

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Barbara Cassin’s monumental Dictionary of Untranslatables, first published in French in 2004, is an encyclopaedic dictionary of nearly 400 philosophical, literary, aesthetic and political terms which have had a long-lasting impact on thinking across the humanities. Translation is central to any consideration of diasporic linguistic border crossing, and the “Untranslatable” (those words or terms which locate problems of translatability at the heart of contemporary critical theory) has opened up new approaches to philosophically informed translation studies. This article argues that there is a far-reaching resonance between Barbara Cassin’s Dictionary of Untranslatables project and Achille Mbembe’s theorization of the postcolonial, precisely insofar as they meet at the crossroads of (un)translatability. Both texts are read performatively, in terms of their respective writing practices and theoretical “entanglements”, one of Mbembe’s key terms.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Syrotinski, Professor Michael
Authors: Syrotinski, M.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Journal of Postcolonial Writing
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN (Online):1744-9863
Published Online:27 December 2019

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