Language, translation, and transformation in indigenous histories

Laura Rademaker*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


    This chapter looks at translation in colonial contexts in Indigenous histories. Translation often appealed to colonisers as it appeared to offer certainty and control; through interpreters, Indigenous people supposedly could be both understood and made to understand. Colonisers used translation especially of Christian and legal texts to institute colonial rule. Mastery of Indigenous languages, some have therefore claimed, was central to a project of colonisation of consciousness. Yet, translation could also be an opportunity for Indigenous peoples. Local interpretations of these same texts were used to undermine the authority of colonisers or to create hybrid messages that served Indigenous interests. Indigenous co-translators were ever able to inflect colonisers texts with their own meanings. Indigenous peoples too translated themselves into colonisers languages and cultural norms, often drawing on their own traditions of translation, to make claims for themselves in new contexts. Translation, then, pulled Indigenous people in multiple directions, and often had unexpected consequences for all involved.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Global Indigenous History
    PublisherTaylor and Francis
    Number of pages23
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315181929
    ISBN (Print)9781138743106
    Publication statusPublished - 30 Sept 2021


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