Translation, Minority and National Identity. The Translation/Appropriation of W.B. Yeats in Galicia (1920-1935)
Vazquez Fernandez, Silvia
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Recent developments in translation studies since the 1990s have focused on the ideological implications of translation, seeing the role of the translator as an interventionist and a mediator. This new paradigm overcomes the idea that translation is a mimetic task that consists merely of transferring meaning from one language to another, but rather it is associated with political processes which may involve domination, oppression, submission or resistance amongst social groups and communities. Recognition is given to the capacity of translation to forge social and cultural change. Postcolonial contexts have proven to be particularly fertile for the study of ideological issues related to translation insofar as they reflect a situation of inequality between language communities. In these contexts, translation can be used as a political artefact either to perpetuate colonial domination or to fight against it. As a result, the 1990s have seen the emergence of postcolonial translation theories. These new theories are not only applicable to contexts that are most commonly identified as postcolonial, but to any type of situation where there exists inequality between the two systems in which translation takes place (e.g., in subaltern cultures where the practice of translation can become a means of resistance against a situation of cultural domination and a channel of self-definition). In this regard, the situation of Galicia in the 1920s and 1930s is paradigmatic and it offers invaluable grounds for the study of translation when used as an ideological instrument in the struggle for the search and construction of a national identity. During this period a group of intellectuals, widely known as Xeración Nós, emerged in the region concerned with the articulation of a nationalist discourse based on the cultural and political differentiation of Galicia with regard to the rest of Spain. Their nation-building project was a response to a situation of cultural oppression, long imposed by the Spanish state represented by Castile, and it was based on the concepts of Celticism and Atlanticism. Resorting back to the alleged Galician ancestors, the Celts, they strove to establish affinities with the other so-called Celtic nations of Northern Europe, particularly Ireland, in order to include Galicia within the Celtic mythological tradition and, by extension, within a new Atlantic civilisation opposed to the Mediterranean one which they associated with Spain. Within this well planned ideological agenda, translation of Irish literary texts played an essential role as it was used as a political tool to establish the abovementioned affinity with Ireland. From the selection of the texts to be translated to the actual discourse strategies used by the translators, translation became a process of appropriation and manipulation to support ideological ends. Focusing on the translations of the Irish poet and playwright W.B. Yeats, the most translated Irish writer of the period and profoundly admired by the Galician intelligentsia, this thesis intends to explore how translation was used in a subversive and manipulative way to show Galicia’s distinctiveness and to build a national identity resisting cultural domination. Therefore, I will demonstrate the capacity of translation to shape cultures and to aid and support cultural and social change.
PhD in Hispanic Studies