If “our whole life is a translation”, as Adrienne Rich suggests in her poem “Our Whole Life”, we cannot help wondering: what then is the original? Is it another text, another experience, or another reality? How is female experience constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed when transmitted from one language/culture to another?
With these questions in mind, the lecture discusses the emergence of feminism in Central and Eastern Europe. After the collapse of communism, Western feminist ideas and practices were transplanted to the region as part of the overall democratization process of building civil society, a process further consolidated by EU integration. Employing cultural translation theory, this process is discussed as feminism in/as translation, i.e., as an incomplete and dynamic process of translating diverse feminist texts, theories, policies, practices, conceptual and analytical frameworks, while simultaneously appropriating and adapting them to local needs. Approaching feminism as a set of culturally translated practices raises a number of interesting questions: Which Western feminist ideas, concepts, and practices have resonated most strongly in the region and why? What local policies and positions have been reinforced or contested in the process of translation, self-translation, and reverse translation? Where do feminist politics of location and politics of translation meet?
Kornelia Slavova is Professor of American Studies in the Department of English and American Studies at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski, Bulgaria. Her publications have appeared in the fields of American drama and literature, translation, popular culture, and gender studies. She is a scholar, translator, and feminist activist. Since 2008 she has served as associate editor of The European Journal of Women’s Studies (SAGE) and is currently IFK_Senior Fellow.