Translating Landscape History
: the translator as knowledge-producer

  • Adrienne Mason

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Authorship is a key indicator of individual scholarly distinction. Academic translators, however, are not academic authors and their status as co-producers of new knowledge is denied by the prevalent institutional assumption that they do no more than reproduce existing scholarship. My aim in this thesis is to challenge that preconception by showing how translators work interactively with others to produce texts which contribute independently to scholarship as hybrid discourses of knowledge, and by demonstrating that translation practice expands our knowledge of translation itself. As the basis for these claims, I use my translation of a French monograph on landscape history by Michel Baridon (1926-2009), published in 2006 by Actes Sud. Within a framework combining Bourdieusian approaches and Latour’s actor-network-theory, I analyse my participation in the ‘making’ of that translation within a global production network.
All academic texts are produced and validated collaboratively in the academic communities to which they contribute. I argue that new technologies create a bilingual ‘laboratory’ in which authorial, translatorial and editorial roles and responsibilities can be holistically combined to increase the transformative potential of translation projects and expand the social limits of the translator-function. My construction of scholarly comparability between source and target texts during the translation process illustrates the translator’s role as a co-producer of new knowledge and evidences the interpretative power of translated texts in the production of new historical narratives. My contribution to Translation Studies is twofold: I show how interactive networks of translation production can optimise the epistemological and discursive hybridity of translated academic texts, and I demonstrate that translation practice can make a distinctive, independent contribution to scholarship. On that basis, I argue that practitioner-researchers should be mainstreamed within research communities as co-producers of knowledge and translations acknowledged as a research output.
Date of Award6 Nov 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorSusan R Harrow (Supervisor) & Carol M O'Sullivan (Supervisor)

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