Consecration and accumulation of literary capital: translation as unequal exchange - my abstract

Casanova, P. (2010). Consecration and accumulation of literary capital: translation as unequal exchange. Critical readings in translation studies285, 303.



This paper proposes the use of criteria in the study of the literary universe that replaces the binary ‘center/periphery’ by the ‘dominant/dominating’ opposition, which implies a structure of domination and power struggles. The paper argues that each language has a linguistic–literary capital attached to it which is relatively independent of linguistic capital. This capital depends on prestige, on the literary beliefs attached to a language, and on the literary value attributed to it. This structural inequality prevents assigning translation a single significance. The paper proposes to enlarge the notion of translation to include, for example, ‘translation as accumulation’ when, through a collective strategy, the dominated national literary fields attempt to import literary capital; or ‘translation as consecration’ when the dominating consecrators import a text from a dominated literary field. The paper concludes by discussing the roles of Translators-mediators. It views them as special experts whose task is to select texts and thus giving it a value. However, the domination they exercise requires that they ‘discover’ writers who are not native but who conform to their literary categories, therefore, translation is also annexation and a kind of universalization through the denial of difference where works are hijacked for the benefit of the central resources.



Keywords: floral figurations, translation as accumulation, translation as consecration, linguistic capital, literary capital, dominating languages, dominated languages

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