Released today! ‘What is Cultural Translation?’ by Sarah Maitland

My new monograph, the first in-depth book-length study of cultural translation, is released today, published by Bloomsbury.

Cultural translation is an evocative concept but so far it has remained opaque. This is the first sustained attempt at grounding a definition of cultural translation in interlingual translation theory.

From the Bloomsbury website:

What Is Cultural Translation? In this book, Sarah Maitland uncovers processes of negotiation and adaptation closely associated with the translation of languages behind the cultural phenomena of everyday life. For globalized societies confronted increasingly with the presence of difference in all its forms, translation has become both a metaphor for thoughtful encounter and a touchstone act for what we see, do and say, and who we are.Drawing on examples from across cultural domains (theatre, film, TV and literature) this work illuminates the elusive concept of ‘cultural translation’. Focusing on the built environment, current affairs, international relations and online media, this book arrives at a view of translation in its broadest sense. It is a means for decoding how we shape the cultural realm and serves as a vehicle for new ways of seeing and being that question the received ideas that structure the communities in which we live.Written in a clear and engaging style, this is the first book-length study of cultural translation. It builds a powerful case for expanding the remit of translation to cover the experience of living and working in a globalized, multicultural world, and is of interest to all involved in the academic study of representation and contestation in contemporary cultural practice.

Free access to my article ‘Culture in translation: The case of British Pathé News’

My article ‘Culture in translation: The case of British Pathé News’ is available for free for a limited number of readers at:

At the risk of serving and betraying two masters, the intellectual and practical work of the translator is best characterized as an ethical problem: to navigate our anxieties of otherness by making difference accessible while also protecting the ‘other’ from appropriation. This article locates these concerns within the context of international motion picture news production, during which the need to make far-off people, events, and cultural practices accessible to audiences at home suggests a similar translation process. Using Paul Ricoeur’s notion of ‘linguistic hospitality’ as its point of entry, it maintains that as cultural translations engaged in the description and explanation of frames of reference different to those of the spectator, newsreels took their audiences on an intercultural journey of discovery, bridging both the physical and the metaphorical gulf that separated them from the images projected on their cinema screens and the experience of life elsewhere. By placing this discussion within the concrete practice of British Pathé News, this article advances a powerful example of not only the complex intercultural negotiations that exist at the heart of newsreel production as a form of cultural translation but also the ways in which these negotiations echo across our relationship to otherness more generally.


Free access to my article ‘“In-between” a rock and a “third space”? On the trouble with ambivalent metaphors of translation’

My article ‘“In-between” a rock and a “third space”? On the trouble with ambivalent metaphors of translation’ is available for free for a limited number of readers at:

Homi Bhabha’s The Location of Culture (1994) made waves in translation studies. His theories of hybridity, third space and the in-between have been consistently present in the literature ever since. For scholars concerned with the ethics of translation vis-à-vis the cultural other, Bhabha’s metaphors give expression to the notion of “writing back” to neocolonial hegemonies. Despite their allure, what has not been addressed is the extent to which their success is threatened by the agency of the translator as a writer. Where the power to write is exercised not by the other but by the translator on their behalf, resistance to hegemony is an ideal that can only be ventriloquized. Through the framework of translation practice, this article examines Bhabha’s metaphor of hybridity and signals the methodological risks of imbricating his ideas uncritically within resistant translation discourse.