Friday, September 27, 2013

Chattopadhyay's Recentering and the logistics of dissemination

"the opening of the critical discourse would in turn lead to a greater demand for, and increase in the amount of, translated literature available. New technologies—crowdsourcing, for instance—can be used to sustain a translation industry."
- from "Recentering Science Fiction and the Fantastic: What would a non-Anglocentric understanding of science fiction and fantasy look like?" By Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay

Chattopadhyay's remarkable article suggests approaches to scholarship, criticism, and potentially distribution of what I am going to call imaginative literatures in this post across languages. There's a lot to digest here, and I am still digesting it. What I have to say may be uninformed and unoriginal. But in admiration for this work of scholarship, I find myself wondering how to help realize one of its proposals . . . which may already have been realized. This may be a silly thing to muse about, or to think about the way I am thinking about it.

I don't know enough about business, about political science, and about managing people or working in collectivist organizations to fully grasp the hurdles such an organization like the one this article makes me imagine would face.

But I do perceive opportunities and potential, and hope that by sharing these thoughts (and I cannot be the only person to have had this reaction) others who do have that background and those skills, along with a healthy dose of self-awareness, might be able to realize it.

And of course this notion would have to be realized in a just way within the context of dynamics of power related to intersections between culture, nationality, gender and sex, language, race, physical personhood, class, religion, ethnicity, political structures, and economic structures.

  • Could something like an Imaginative Literature Translation Collective serve the translation and potentially also copyediting needs of authors from many languages and help them to get published in anglophone and other language publications, as English could serve as a bridge-language? 
  • Do templates for this kind of organization already exist?
  • What existing approaches to various kinds of projects might be applicable to an organization like this?
  • Is this kind of organization needed? 
  • Could this imaginary organization work in tandem with the efforts of bilingual and multilingual scholars promoting multilingual imaginative literature? 
  • Do authors and scholars have the time to coordinate networks of translators to facilitate crowd translation? 
  • Could this thought experiment of an organization do so without costing authors money until publication, and not much then?
  • Could it do so while recognizing in some fashion that potential authors, translators, and copyeditors may be facing, as Anil Menon very effectively put it, situations in which "career choices have a life-or-death quality", and cannot afford to give their time away for free?
  • Could it do so without becoming or being viewed as a pet project of a handful of invested people, or a means for the centralization of power in the hands of a few?
  • Could it do so without living or dying based on the ability of a few individuals to give away their time and money?
  • Could it do so without depending on grants from one or more governments and entering upon the obligations and restrictions inherent in that dependence?
  • Could it truly be a collective without descending into chaos, living up to the political implications of a non-capitalist means of organization but still support its members who live in a primarily capitalist world?
  • Could it avoid succumbing to colonialist imposition, the insertion of a intermediary organization where none is needed?
  • Could it be accountable and open to its members, sharing financial information, addressing concerns, and striving above all to help authors and translators of imaginative literature?
  • What would encourage the members of this organization to stay invested and involved?
  • How would existing publishing houses respond to authors translated in this manner?
  • What about authors who do not speak any English; what or who will facilitate their connection to publishers in other languages?
  • Would this be a non-governmental organization / nonprofit, or a business (even a business run at a loss)?
  • Could this organization make a difference for the benefit of authors during the present era of publishing?

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