[Blueboard] "Translating Kalayaan" by Vicente Rafael
jchua at ateneo.edu
jchua at ateneo.edu
Mon Nov 14 19:39:47 PHT 2005
A lecture by Vicente L. Rafael
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
4:30 - 6:00 pm
Social Science AVR
The lecture is a preview of his latest book, The Promise of the Foreign:
Nationalism and the Technics of Translation.
In The Promise of the Foreign, Vicente L. Rafael argues that translation
was key to the emergence of Filipino nationalism in the nineteenth
century. Acts of translation entailed technics from which issued the
promise of nationhood. Such a promise consisted of revising the
heterogeneous and violent origins of the nation by mediating one's
encounter with things foreign while preserving their strangeness. Rafael
examines the workings of the foreign in the Filipinos' fascination with
Castilian, the language of the Spanish colonizers. In Castilian, Filipino
nationalists saw the possibility of arriving at a lingua franca with which
to overcome linguistic, regional, and class differences. Yet they were
also keenly aware of the social limits and political hazards of this
Through close readings of nationalist newspapers and novels, the
vernacular theater, and accounts of the 1896 anticolonial revolution,
Rafael traces the deep ambivalence with which elite nationalists and
lower-class Filipinos alike regarded Castilian. The widespread belief
in the potency of Castilian meant that colonial subjects came in contact
with a recurring foreignness within their own language and society.
Rafael shows how they sought to tap into this uncanny power, seeing
in it both the promise of nationhood and a menace to its realization.
Tracing the genesis of this promise and the ramifications of its
betrayal, Rafael sheds light on the paradox of nationhood arising from the
possibilities and risks of translation. By repeatedly opening borders to
the arrival of something other and new, translation compels the nation to
host foreign presences to which it invariably finds itself held hostage.
While this condition is perhaps common to other nations, Rafael shows how
its unfolding in the Philippine colony would come to be claimed by
Flipinos, as would the names of the dead and their ghostly emanations.
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