Interweaving Performance Cultures
Fellow 2016/17, 2017/18
Avishek Ganguly is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Literary Arts and Studies at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, USA. He received his Ph.D. in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University in New York. His current research examines questions of translation, multilingualism, and the formation of collectivities through the lens of contemporary theatre and performance. He is also interested in a South Asia-based comparative approach to the study of everyday life and urban cultural studies and has published articles on periodical publications during the 1960s and contemporary urban music making in India.
Polyglot Performances: Translation and the Post-Monolingual Stage
Translation in the context of theatre and performance has mostly been discussed as either an act of inter-lingual transfer between two texts or as a metaphor for the process of page-to-stage transformation. My book project examines a range of theatrical, performative, and artistic works from the 1960s to the present and offers new ways of conceptualizing the place of translation vis-à-vis theatre and performance. I argue that translation has not only emerged as a significant dramatic technique but also as a provocative conceptual, structural, visual-typographic, and increasingly oral-aural device in contemporary theatrical texts and performative situations. Such formal experiments, I suggest, often re-position translation as a political instrument that forms collectivities. The processes of interweaving in theatre and performance that I am interested in thus consist primarily of languages and scripts, unstable notions of ‘original’ and ‘copy,’ authentic and acquired fluencies, creoleness and authenticity, ‘native’ and non-native syntaxes, and different registers of ‘neutral’ and accented speech, inter- and intra-lingual translations. My work attempts to displace the easy binary of practice and theory that often accompanies the discussion of translation and seeks to supplement the material specificities of the act with recent insights about the ethical and political dimensions of translation offered most notably by scholars of comparative literature, cultural studies, and literary theory. In its approach to translation and hetero-lingual performances my project also hopes to explore the interfaces between theatre and performance and emergent fields such as sound studies, global indigenous studies, and digital cultural studies.
- Ganguly, Avishek, “Invoking the Translator: A Conversation with Raqs Media Collective” in Public Books, August 1, 2016.
- Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, “Translating into English,” in Sandra Bermann and Michael Wood, (eds.) Nation, Language, and the Ethics of Translation,Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005, pp. 93-110.
- Apter, Emily, The Translation Zone: A New Comparative Literature, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2005.