News & Updates
Assimilation Is Not the Answer / La asimilación no es la solución
In a Roundtable on Contemporary Translation and Politics, Daniel Borzutzky and Jennifer Scappettone talk about Antena:
Daniel Borzutzky: And then I’d again point to the work that Jen Hofer and John Pluecker do with the Antena collective (http://antenaantena.org/). The way that they have articulated the importance of translation as it relates to language-justice, and the creation of multilingual community spaces, is for me another inspiring example of some serious thought and action about how the translator moves beyond language transmission and into practical modes of grassroots community activism.
On the homepage of their website we are told that “Antena views aesthetic practice as part and parcel of language justice work.”
The work they are doing, and the articulation of these positions, has helped me grapple with some of these larger questions we have been talking about in regards to the way that the suspicion of translation mirrors the suspicion of immigrants.
There are plenty of instances outside of poetry, with journalistic or didactic writing, where translation can actually be a dangerous act. And we talked plenty about the imperialism involved in appropriative translations in the US. But I point to Don Mee and Jen and John as examples of poets who are troubling the boundaries of the translator and the material to be translated in very different ways, in ways that at once expose imperialism while offering methods of critique, and of improving people’s daily lives in meaningful, serious ways. […]
Jennifer Scappettone: I just want to echo Daniel’s praise for Antena (and also Don Mee/Hyesoon!). I’ve been really floored and moved by Antena’s creation of spaces aimed at thinking through and enacting language justice in various cities, most recently Los Angeles. Their work is empowering people who constantly have to negotiate English-language dominance in a very concrete way. Antena’s conceptual platform also asks us to rethink the commonly held notion that “transparency” between languages is the answer. In my introduction to PennSound Italiana, which is aimed at “liberating” Italian-language texts as sound, I quoted Antena’s “Manifesto for Ultratranslation,” which also calls for “untranslation, undertranslation, overtranslation, an excess, extranslation, a lack, a limit, an excrescence, an impropriety, distranslation, retranslation, multitranslation, a mistake, a conflict, dystranslation. An understanding of the potential in not understanding.” Antena is a unique example of experimental translation in action. It asks us to find ways to put our skills to work in quotidian contexts dominated by an increasingly hysterical fear of outsiders while stressing that assimilation is not the answer.
Read the whole Roundtable here.