Translation and the museum. Exploring the impact of museum translation on memory construction and figures of the other

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2020 - 2024 (lopend)

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Abstract

While interlingual translation is essential to museums catering for an international audience, and issues of representation are fundamental to museological research and practice, the intersection of translation studies and museum studies is an understudied field to this day.

Museums can be considered as “translation spaces,” places of heightened language awareness and intense cultural transaction. The concept of “space” relates both to concrete, architectural forms (the museum building, the exhibition room), and to “zones,” places where we encounter the Other and challenge stereotypical images. Equally, “translation” is analyzed as both a metaphorical transfer process and an interlingual activity: museums “translate” cultures and stories for their visitors through the selection and combination of objects and texts, and through various scenographic strategies; but as touristic destinations, they also resort to translation “proper” in order to cater for different language user needs.

The current project therefore sets out to explore the interface between translation and the museum, combining a broad metaphorical perspective with micro-level analysis of translated texts. It proposes a transnational comparative study of migration and/or memory museums with an aim to determine the impact of translation on representations of the Other, and on memory construction in the museum.

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