Laborers and Actors in Translation

From the Individual Turn to a Bi-National Translation


Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press and Hakibbutz Hameuchad
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2020
Series Theory and Criticism in Context Series

Laborers and Actors in Translation is a critical historical analysis, the first of its kind, of the modern translation project. The book’s first part offers a genealogy of the field of translation, its concepts, and its phases, starting with antiquity. It continues through the Middle Ages and up to the Individualist Turn, which developed in Europe during the Renaissance and the early modern period. The book exposes the limitations of the neoclassical individualist model of translation, which was based on seclusion and therefore removed the function of dialogue, which had characterized the collective model of translation that preceded it and imposed silence and isolation on the translators. In an original and unique analysis, Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani argues that under the conditions of colonial relations, the neoclassical model creates inherent asymmetry and perpetuates the power relations that exist outside the translator’s room. The second part of the book focuses on translation from Arabic to Hebrew and proposes an ideal type of binational translation in teams, which allows for polyphony and linguistic multiplicity and restores the value of dialogue in textual translation. The book combines political thought, translation theory, and the contemporary practice of literary translation from Arabic to Hebrew.

Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani is a professor of sociology at Tel Aviv University and the editor-in-chief of the Maktoob series of translations from Arabic into Hebrew at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute. Between 1999 and 2010 he edited the journal Theory and Criticism at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and since 2005 he has edited the Theory and Criticism in Context series, of which this volume is a part. His book A Story that Begins with Eyebrows of an Arab – Translation in Dialogue with Elias Khoury is soon to be published by Bar-Ilan University.

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