I’m off to Japan now to attend the conference of the International Research Society for Children’s Literature, where I’ll present on the role of power in translating dialects in children’s literature. My research on this topic has been influenced by postcolonial theories of translation, and it’s been fascinating to see how postcolonial theories relate to children’s literature and to translation in general.
For those of you who might want to learn more about this topic, I recommend these books: Translation and Power, edited by Maria Tymoczko and Edwin Gentzler, and Translation and Empire: Postcolonial Theories Explained by Douglas Robinson. They give detailed background to the topic.
A quote from the first book sums up the role of translation in colonization: Translations are “one of the primary literary tools that larger social institutions–educational systems, arts councils, publishing firms, and even governments–had at their disposal to “manipulate” a given society in order to “construct” the kind of “culture” desired” (Tymoczko and Gentzler, xiii).
In other words, those in power can decide which texts to translate and how to translate them in order to further their own goals and influence those over whom they have power. What I will talk about in Kyoto refers to how adults might use this power when it comes to writing and translating for children.