Politics of translation: A cosmopolitan approach

Esperança Bielsa, Antonio Aguilera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


© 2017, © 2017 European Sociological Association. Translation has gained a central importance in recent accounts of cosmopolitanism that emphasise global interdependence and the interaction between different cultures and traditions. In this context, it becomes necessary to formulate a politics of translation that questions some idealist assumptions about translation that are present in the sociological literature, specifies translation as a fundamentally ethnocentric act, and formulates relevant strategies to confront this inherent ethnocentrism in order to open up translation to the difference of the other. This implies a broad conception of translation primarily as a social relation with foreignness, rather than merely as the transfer of meaning from one language into another. In this light, a politics of translation based on linguistic hospitality is seen as a more realistic alternative than Derrida’s notion of absolute hospitality, while also responding to problems related to the difficulty of understanding, which are minimised in a Habermasian notion of tolerance. It also connects with a philosophy that relates language to its anthropological and material roots, thus presenting linguistic hospitality as a space where a human potential based on flexibility and adaptability can flourish.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-24
JournalEuropean Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jan 2017


  • Cosmopolitanism
  • hospitality
  • politics of translation


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