Department of Psychology
Department of Psychology

Dr. Courtney Handman, "Translating Boredom in Christian Papua New Guinea: On the Problems of Translation as Comparison v. Translation as Circulation"

Wed, February 22, 2017 | SEA 1.332 (Hakes Library)

3:00 PM

Cognitive Science Area Meeting

Courtney Handman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Anthropology
The University of Texas at Austin

 

"Translating Boredom in Christian Papua New Guinea:
On the Problems of Translation as Comparison v. Translation as Circulation"

 

February 22, 3pm - 4pm
SEA 1.332 (Hakes Library)

 

Abstract: Most of the theories of linguistic translation focus on the kinds of semantic or categorial mismatches between languages that seem to make ‘perfect’ translation impossible. Similarly, practicing translators develop strategies and forms of analysis that they hope reduce these semantic mismatches to whatever extent they believe possible. In that sense, translation has largely been considered an agonized process of comparison—whether it is between linguistic codes, cultural perspectives, or mental categories. But for Guhu-Samane Christians in Papua New Guinea, who have been heavily involved in Bible translation for over 50 years, these kinds of semantic comparisons are agonizing only because they seem so boring.

What then keeps these Christians returning to projects of translation, which they consider the premier driving force behind their recent transformation into evangelicals and Pentecostals? In this talk I use ethnographic and historical material from Papua New Guinea to discuss how translation is locally considered a problem of textual circulation across time and space, rather than a problem of the comparison of semantic categories. I also address why this is a productive way to think about translation in contexts beyond Papua New Guinea.

Sponsored by: Department of Psychology Cognitive Science Area

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