On Origins: The Mythistory of Translation Studies and the Geopolitics of Knowledge
This article critically examines the oft-cited historical narrative of Translation Studies that situates its birth in the post-war West. This narrative is referred to as the mythistory of Translation Studies, as its validity derives more from its circulation than from a knowledge of other traditions. The narrative in its various iterations is first analysed as an imperial myth, positing a unitary point of origin, following a developmental trajectory, and presenting its local history as world history. The article then demonstrates the ways in which this Western mythistory contributes to the consolidation of a neocolonial geo-politics of the field, as reflected in the leading Anglophone anthologies, which present Western theory as universal while erasing or delegitimizing knowledge from the global South. The Western mythistory of the field is then provincialised by comparing it to the systematic and sustained interest in translation that arose in the Soviet Union in the nineteen twenties and thirties. This critical treatment of the mythistory is meant to open a space for heterogeneity in the field and to ensure that attempts to enlarge the field are not merely expansions.