TRANSLATION IN TRANSIT: DISLOCATIONS AND NEGOTIATIONS
August 31, 2012
3:00-4:15 p.m., Faura AVR
Parallel Session 1-B
J. NEIL C. GARCIA
University of the Philippines
“Translation and the Problem of Realism in Philippine Literature in English”
Philippine anglophone literature supposedly passed through its own “realism,” as exemplified by the works of writers like Paz Marquez Benitez, NVM Gonzalez, Aida Rivera Ford, etc. And yet, we need to realize that realism in this case is a category mistake, because realism as a critical term presupposes monocultural verisimilitude in a first language (to wit: Charles Dickens’s and George Eliot’s novels about 19th-century London were deemed realistic, because their characters actually sounded/talked like the Londoners of their time.) By contrast, the typical scenes of kaingeros and their children talking to each other in English on the loamy fields of Gonzalez’s stories and novels were obviously not realistic scenes in this sense. They were translations, and precisely to this degree we cannot so easily subsume them under the category of realism.
Filipino writers working in English are, most of the time, translating from a plurality of linguistic and cultural registers, and this “translatedness” amounts to a form of ironic “distantiation” between reference and sign—to a form of self-reflexivity that exists despite the habitual response (actually, the neocolonial wish) that deems it doesn’t (or it shouldn’t). Without realism per se, the modernist/postmodernist departures being bandied about by young avant-garde writers nowadays cannot be said to signify the same “radical” things. In fact, it’s rather likely that the imitation of perceptibly modernist/postmodern ironic forms–premised on a hegemonic monocultural dispensation, and the realism that shores it up and that it promotes–may be nothing more than the expression of a fetishistic attachment to the phantasm of a neocolonial power that a self-referential and formally involuted deployment of a globally desirable (because prestigious) English at once signifies and performs.
J. Neil C. Garcia teaches creative writing and comparative literature in the University of the Philippines, Diliman, where he enjoys the rank of Artist II in the Artistic Productivity System, and where he serves as a fellow for poetry in the Institute of Creative Writing. He is the author of numerous poetry collections and works in literary and cultural criticism, including Our Lady of the Carnival (1996), The Sorrows of Water (2000), Kaluluwa (2001), Slip/pages: Essays in Philippine Gay Criticism (1998), Performing the Self: Occasional Prose (2003), The Garden of Wordlessness (2005), Misterios and Other Poems (2005), Postcolonialism and Filipino Poetics: Essays and Critiques (2003), and the monograph At Home in Unhomeliness: Philippine Postcolonial Poetry in English (2008), whose accompanying anthology he edited for the Philippine PEN. In 2009, Hong Kong University Press published its own international edition of his Philippine Gay Culture (1996). Between 1994 and 2006, he co-edited the famous Ladlad series of Philippine gay writing. He is currently working on a full-length book, a postcolonial survey and analysis of Philippine poetry in English, partial research for which he carried out in the United States in the spring of 2008, as a Fulbright senior research fellow. His most recent book, published earlier this year, is Aura: the Gay Theme in Philippine Fiction in English. This anthology gathers together Filipino anglophone stories and novel excerpts about the male homosexual character, by nationally acclaimed writers like Jose Garcia Villa, NVM Gonzalez, Edith Tiempo, Ninotchka Rosca, and Jessica Hagedorn. He is also currently at work on Likha, his seventh poetry book, which will be a sequence of lyrics about the generative power of mourning and fallible affection.
CORAZON D. VILLAREAL
University of the Philippines, Diliman
“Looking for “Melayu”: Translators and Seafarers”
The term “Melayu” resonates with the paradox of our kinship with the Malay and distance from it (malayo in Tagalog; malayu in Hiligaynon). Translation can be a strategy to negotiate this paradox. But much of what we know of Melayu is filtered through the colonial translator’s eyes, e.g., travel accounts and publications emanating from British publishing houses and institutions such as the Toyota Foundation and the ASEAN Ministries of Culture .
The paper explores Melayu in the Badjaos in southern Philippines. Although considered peripheral to Melayu and the Islamic kingdoms, these seafarers are distributed throughout Maritime Southeast Asia where most Malays reside. Thus, a study of the texts translated. transmitted, and circulated among the seafaring Badjaos can translate for us the sifting meanings of Melayu. But the project of cultural translation also raises some questions. In the fluid, borderless world of the Badjaos.what is the object of translation? How does (in) fidelity to source relate to power and agency?
Corazon D. Villareal is Professor at the Department of English and Comparative Literature, University of the Philippines Diliman of which she was former chair. Her main publications are on translation and translational processes relating to Philippine literature and culture, among them, Translating the Sugilanon: Reframing the Sign (UP Press 1994), Siday (Ateneo Press 1997). Her various articles have appeared in international publications such as the Asiatic (Malaysia 2010), Language Teaching (UK 2011) and The Global Local Interface: Language Choice and Hybridity (Multilingual Matters, Forthcoming in 2012).
Lila Ramos Shahani
Asian Institute of Management
Translation and Glocalization: Honor and Shame among South Asian Muslims in Britain
This paper looks at complex and shifting sets of meaning in notions of honor/shame among two dominant Muslim communities in Britain: a Bangladeshi community in London’s East End (Sunni) and a Pakistani community (Shi’a) in north England. Both groups have been deeply marginalized by the British welfare state system. I will ask how honor is understood throughout the Punjab, on the one hand, and contested among Bengalis, who continue to seek their own forms of imagined community (given their chequered history), on the other—and how this was diasporically translated and articulated in forms of glocalized discourse.
Assistant Secretary/Professor Lila Ramos Shahani has has had variety of work experiences at home and abroad. She began as a Deputy Director of the Museo ng Kalinangang Pilipino (Museum of Philippine Humanities) at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and taught Literature and Art Studies at the University of the Philippines (UP). In New York, she was an editor for Oxford University Press (OUP-NY), a research director for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and a policy adviser for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). More recently, she was Assistant Secretary at the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) and adjunct faculty at the Asian Institute of Management (AIM), where she taught Development Communications. She is now head of communications of the Human Development and Poverty Reduction Cabinet Cluster (HDPRCC), which covers twenty government agencies dealing with poverty and development. She did her undergraduate work at Brown University, received a Masters Degree from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, and is now a doctoral candidate at Oxford University.