Translation, interpreting and the genealogy of conflict

Luis Pérez-González

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While the growing ubiquitousness of translation and interpreting has established these activities more firmly in the public consciousness, the extent of the translators' and interpreters' contribution to the continued functioning of cosmopolitan and participatory postmodern societies remains largely misunderstood. This paper argues that the theorisation of translation and interpretation as social phenomena and of translators/interpreters as agents contributing to the stability or subversion of social structures through their capacity to re-define the context in which they mediate constitutes a recent development in the evolution of the discipline. The consequentiality of the mediators' agency, one of the most significant insights to come out of this new body of research, is particularly evident in situations of social, political and cultural confrontation. It is contended that this conceptualisation of agency opens up the possibility of translation being used not only to resolve conflict and tension, but also to promote them. Through a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches, the contributing authors to this special issue explore a number of sites of linguistic and cultural mediation across a range of institutional settings and textual/interactional genres, with particular emphasis on the contribution of translation and interpreting to the genealogy of conflict. The papers presented here address a number of overlapping themes, including the dialectics of governmental policy-making and translation, the interface between translation, politics and the media, the impact of the narrative affiliation of translators and interpreters as agents of mediation, the frictional dynamics of interpreter-mediated institutional encounters and the dynamics of identity negotiation. © John Benjamins Publishing Company.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)169-184
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Language and Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Agency
  • Conflict
  • Contextualisation
  • Identity
  • Ideology
  • Institution(al)(isation)
  • Interpreting
  • Power
  • Translation


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