Vicente Rafael Publishes ‘Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation’

RafaelLongtime Simpson Center collaborator Vicente L. Rafael (History) has published a new book with Duke University Press, Motherless Tongues: The Insurgency of Language amid Wars of Translation (2016).

The book examines the vexed relationship between language and history gleaned from the workings of translation in the Philippines, the United States, and beyond. From the publisher:

Moving across a range of colonial and postcolonial settings, Rafael demonstrates translation's agency in the making and understanding of events. These include nationalist efforts to vernacularize politics, US projects to weaponize languages in wartime, and autobiographical attempts by area studies scholars to translate the otherness of their lives amid the Cold War. In all cases, translation is at war with itself, generating divergent effects. It deploys as well as distorts American English in counterinsurgency and colonial education, for example, just as it re-articulates European notions of sovereignty among Filipino revolutionaries in the nineteenth century and spurs the circulation of text messages in a civilian-driven coup in the twenty-first.

The work dovetails with Vince’s work this year co-leading Troubling Translations, a crossdisciplinary research cluster at the Simpson Center. He is also co-teaching the spring 2016 HUM microseminar “Troubling Translations: Language & Literature, Politics, and Market.”

In 2008, he delivered a Katz Distinguished Lecture in the Humanities, “Translation in Wartime.” In 2004-05, he was a member of the Society of Scholars.

The new book is the latest in a string of publications exploring Filipino history and translation issues.

Congratulations, Vince!

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