People on the move — ideas on the move
academic cultures and the problematic of translatability
The question of translatability between academic cultures in the social sciences and humanities is primarily a question of language and textuality.1 Language and texts are the prime medium to communicate, discuss, negotiate, and agree or disagree upon specific views, approaches, concepts, and terminologies. Language and text are, however, never objective, neutral, or unambiguous. This applies to texts and language in general, and even more so in intercultural contexts, which are the main focus of this contribution. Terms that have accomplished some kind of an agreed-upon meaning, or at least can be intersubjectively communicated due to well-known (even though different) meanings, might have completely different meanings or be totally unknown in different cultures. They might, therefore, not even be translatable into familiar language, requiring a neologism which may still be unfamiliar to the "receiving" culture. Examples are numerous, and some of them, from the context of European émigré scholars and the foundation of US political science, will be illustrated below during the course of our argument. The focus of our discussion will be on the problems of translatability and of culturally limited meanings of language. In the first section, we will further elaborate on the question of meaning in texts and their translatability before concluding from this, in the second section, the specific relevance of an ethics of reading and writing/translation, of culturally situated knowledge, and of relational reading.
Behr, H. , Kirke, X. (2014)., People on the move — ideas on the move: academic cultures and the problematic of translatability, in F. Rösch (ed.), Émigré scholars and the genesis of international relations, Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 21-39.
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