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Feminist Literary Spaces: An Analysis on Power Relations Within Translation Discourses


· Julia Guenther University of Vienna (Vienna, Austria)


07/27 | 11:00-11:20 UTC+2/CEST


While translations opened possibilities for marginalised voices to be read, a criticism that I have to contend with in my PhD research from colleagues in India is that I have to use translated texts to achieve my research aim, which is to examine how feminist writers´ subjectivity formations and resistance reflect in their literary texts and vice versa. For my PhD research, I interviewed Dalit and Muslim feminist writers based in Telangana, South India. Despite being met with an understanding, I felt uncomfortable using the language of colonisation to conduct research that aims to deconstruct postcolonial notions and hegemonic dynamics. Fiona Smith (1996), a geography lecturer at the University of Dundee, argues that translations, especially if they are from ‘local’ to academic knowledge, are embedded in power relations. Using feminist epistemology, I reflect upon these power dynamics in this paper. However, she also suggests that the ‘hybrid spaces’ (Smith, 1996: 163), which arise when translating one language into another, should not be understood as a ‘problem’ but rather ‘as spaces of conceptual and … political opportunities and negotiations’ (Smith, 1996: 165). The encounter of the different pieces of knowledge is thus an opportunity to deconstruct stereotypes and power relations as well as create common ground for resistance and solidarity. In this interdisciplinary study, which draws upon sociological, postcolonial and literature theories from a feminist perspective, I further deconstruct, analyse and discuss these spaces, when the literary texts from the feminist writers I interviewed are published in English.