The Many Purposes of Translation in India: Re-reading National Histories

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


What role does translation play in the construction of ideas of nationhood in contemporary India and, in what ways, if any, has it served to challenge dominant definitions of the Indian nation state? Situating this question within some trajectories of literary and translation histories constructed to prove an always already present cultural ‘unity’ underlying the political state, I examine two contemporary aspects of literary translation: a controversy over a scholarly essay on literary translation and the project of translating literatures that explore the birth of the Indian nation. In both cases, certain interpretations of translation have played a performative function to perpetuate or challenge ideas of the Indian state as a unified, autonomous ‘nation’. As we will see, constructing translation history can be as contentious an exercise as translation practice.
Period25 Aug 2017
Held atIndraprastha College for Women, University of Delhi, India


  • Translation
  • Indian Nationalism
  • Ramayana
  • Politics of literary translation