Resisting state terror : theorizing communities of activist translators and interpreters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Authors:
  • Mona Baker
  • Esperanza Bielsa (Editor)
  • Christopher W. Hughes (Editor)


This article argues that translation studies has situated itself within structures of authority since its inception and continues to describe the role of translation largely from the point of view of dominant groups and constituencies. Where translation scholars have adopted the perspective of marginalised or resistant groups in society, this has almost exclusively been in the context of historical studies, with temporal distance ensuring that no ‘spillage’ of risk or serious political controversy can contaminate the orderly world of scholarly research. In the meantime, in the professional world a growing number of translators and interpreters have been forming communities of resistance – at least since 1998, and more systematically (and radically) since 2002. The article first outlines some key concepts in narrative theory, which I then draw on to describe the role of these communities as foci of resistance in an increasingly turbulent political environment. Narrative theory is helpful in this context because it is ultimately a theory of how communities are formed, how they grow and change but nevertheless maintain their ‘identity’, how they attract individuals (or ‘adherents’ in the case of social movements), and how these ultimately disparate individuals come to share and identify with a set of broad narratives that can draw them together as a community and still accommodate endless variation at the individual level. Focusing on one particular group, Tlaxcala, I then attempt to formulate concrete research questions that might enable the discipline and the profession to begin exploring how these activist communities narrate themselves, and how they elaborate their position in relation to the various public, disciplinary and meta narratives that circulate in the global arena.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGlobalisation, Political Violence and Translation
Place of PublicationBasingstoke, Hampshire
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9780230218819
Publication statusPublished - 2009