World Philologies Seminar
Thu 22 May 2014 | 16:00–18:00

Colonial Translation and the Early Modern Atlantic

Luciana Villas Boas (Fellow der Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung/FU Berlin); Chair: Mishka Sinha (Zukunftsphilologie-Fellow 2013-14)

Freie Universität Berlin, Raum JK24/122d, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 14195 Berlin

This study addresses the interrelation between translation and colonial history by drawing attention to the first interpreters and translators of sixteenth-century Brazil. Insofar as texts written by, or providing descriptions of, go-betweens cut across linguistic, national and confessional boundaries, they call for a displacement of a strictly Portuguese history to a connected history of colonial Brazil. By joining a broad comparative framework with a focus on particular colonial settings, my approach to colonial writing makes an argument about the study of colonialism. Much scholarship directed towards the concepts of ‘hybridity’ or ‘transculturation’ privileges an understanding of colonialism as a discourse and relies on the linguistic qualities of texts to elicit the difference between colonial subjects. I seek to move beyond this tendency by, first, drawing a distinction between the semantics of texts and their historical contexts, and second by correlating the transformation of concepts to actual historical processes.

Luciana Villas Bôas holds a PhD in Comparative Literature (Columbia University, NY, 2005) and has been working as Associate Professor at the Department of Anglo-Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature at Federal University of Rio de Janeiro since 2009. She is currently completing the book manuscript, Writing Dissent: Hans Staden’s Book and Early Colonialism (to be submitted to the Transculturalisms, 1400-1700 series at Ashgate) and researching for a book project titled The king's tongues: colonial translators and the political imagination in Sixteenth-Century Brazil. Luciana is the author of Encontros escritos. Semântica histórica do Brasil no Novo Mundo to be published this year in Brazil, and of several articles on early modern travel literature, ethnography, and intellectual history. She has also done several translations from German into Portuguese, such as Reinhart Koselleck's Critique and Crisis and Habermas’s The divided West.

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