Colonialism, Postcolonialism, and Diaspora in Terms of Translation

Article excerpt

In the context of 'colonialism', 'postcolonialism', and 'diaspora', 'translation' as a metaphor is taken into account in this paper. Translation is not new but to examine 'colonialism', 'postcolonialism', and 'diaspora' in terms of translation looks a little new. Translation is a junction where two languages and two cultures meet only to result in impurity, artificiality and undecidability. Since translation involves social and power relations, it underwent a chequered career. During 'colonialism', translation helped colonizers consolidating colonial regime which turned traitor in 'postcolonialism' and diasporism. The base term for ' colonialism' is colony. If translation is taken for granted in its etymological use (to carry across), a colony means a second copy of the original located somewhere on the globe. And therefore, 'colonialism' refers to the acts of settling down a colony elsewhere on the map. Thus, both terms 'translation' and 'colonialism' involve the acts of displacements and relocation. Colonizers, to ensure safety, and continuation of their hegemonic rule over natives, invoked translation as a tool for seizing power and pelf. Postcolonialism is mainly marked by its oppositional stance to the self-centered homogeneous topology of 'colonialism'. It employed mainly 'mimicry' and 'hybridity' as two avataras (incarnations) of translation to serve the 'postcolonial' purposes of getting colonial ideology and belief fragmented, fissured and flawed. Diaspora which deals with dispersed communities worldwide examines translational and transnational nature of diasporics and diasporic experiences. Culture and identity never remain constant. They always modify and get modified in turn. The concept of 'diaspora' in all cases bears the sense of translocation, displacement or de-territorialization. Hence, translation is an apt metaphor for 'colonialism', 'postcolonialism' and 'diaspora'.


The term 'translation', during and after the colonial period, has been unique and a useful weapon for subjugation and communication. In the preparation of this paper, it has been sought to evaluate, appreciate and ensure the applicability and usefulness of translation trope. Invariably, it has served divergent purposes as per calls of various power setups. Frankly, 'colonialism', 'postcolonialism', and 'diaspora', widely debated critical terms, can be demystified by the potential of translation. In this paper, all relevant as well as needful opinions of various critics have been taken into account, especially those associated with 'colonialism', 'postcolonialism', and 'diaspora' studies.

Translation Versus Colonialism

Translation simply means a second copy of the original. The word 'translation' by its etymology means to bear/carry across. In this sense, 'translation' may refer to displacement/dislocation as well as the relocation of something. Translation, in other words, refers to the act of thinking one thing by two ways concomitantly. Mikhail Bakhtin, in Discourse in the Novel (written in 1934-35), focuses on the traveling nature ofwords in language system. He argues that words never remain neutral. It becomes one's own only when it is appropriated and adopted for semantic and expressive intentions, as they keep on serving other people's intention.

The base term for 'colonialism' is colony. If translation is taken for granted in its etymological use, a colony is a second copy of the original located somewhere in the world. And therefore, colonialism refers to the acts of setting up colonies (second copies of originals) elsewhere on the map. Colonial history is largely characterized by violence, and exploitation of non-white, non-Western others and hierarchical discrimination between center and periphery, metropolis and colonies and signified and signifier. Colonizers to ensure security and safety, and for the continuation of their hegemony over natives employed both 'ideological' and 'state' apparatuses. …