Monday, February 28, 2011
Sunday, February 27, 2011
Friday, February 25, 2011
This particular excerpt discusses the politics of post colonial translation from hindi to english and vice-versa through the implications established by Harish Trivedi in his essay the politics of postcolonial translation. When postcolonial translation is discussed, the foremost idea that is to be addressed is, how it is crucial to assume not only chronological but also a qualitative difference between translations, both in the colonial and the postcolonial eras. This applies only to translations because the original literary works have a historical configuration which envisages the date of composition or publication. But in translations both the original text and the translated text have to be comprehended in terms of its historical co-ordinates. In doing so, there are a few questions which are addressed:
1) Are same kind of texts translated in postcolonial times?
2) Are different kinds of texts now beginning to be translated?
3) Whether the balance of cultural power is transacted in terms of reception and impact?
The process of translation involves interaction between two authors, languages, cultures and political implications. In this pretext the translating process is always a hegemonic one wherein the translation is superior and the source text is inferior as this is not just personal preference but also due to the impact set by the west (british). Coming to the point of discussion, in the act of translation when a literary work is being translated from hindi to english, the translator modifies, reframes and restructures the original work and the original author is falsified. The translations from hindi to english leave behind chunks of Indianness and this kind of a pattern is chosen by translators either foreign or Indian. This so happens in the ending of any literary work where the Indian sense gets subjugated and transfered to a western sense of ending.
Translations of a hindi text share common features of translatorial practices. This is a new formulation which is a whole culture into another. It identifies what gets translated and what may be sought to be translated. The cultural-national project of postcolonial translations in India have two contemporary aspects. They are translations of world literatures into hindi and translations from hindi to english. This is a politics of another kind. E.g. one of the hindi writers Rangey Raghav has translated fifteen Shakespearean works to hindi. Shakespeare is the most notable of all english writer. In translating Shakespeare’s works into hindi would bring in popularity and hindi gets a wider scope and wider audience. This is not because Rangey Ragav expressses his love of shakespeare but rather his love of hindi. Apart from this, there are many other young and rising hindi translators who have translated, the waste land by vishnu khare, the portrait of a lady by mohan rakesh, the stranger by rajendra yadav and many other writers discovered their talent as writers through translating such works of emminent European writers. In translating such works these translators bring home a remarkable power of conception by delineating human characters, European history to the sympathetic Indian reader. The next reason behind such kind of translations is becausee of the aspiration and desire than achievement or performance. Translating literary works from hindi to many other foreign languages not just english means that the history, the society, the culture of the language hindi has to get a global acclaimation.
Yet another reason behind Indian writers translating literary works from hindi to english and vice-versa is ultimately to reach beyond a larger readership. Sometimes there arises a question as to why many works from english have to be translated to hindi precisely because the readers get the original text than wait for the translated works. These are the different ‘politics’ that are discussed in this excerpt.
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Translation can be traced back in terms of its origin to the time when the western powers spread their dominations around the world, and even earlier than that. Translation was a means to dominate and to learn about other cultures. Thailand, a country which supposedly has not been colonized, has its long history of translation from dealings with the western countries as well as its eastern neighbors. The need for translation in Thai history then arose with a necessity of communication with missionaries and representatives from many countries who either wanted to impose on the common people and the governing heads their influences or to do trades. The early forms of translation were mainly official documents to the royal governments or the kings themselves.
According to Ramayana: An Instrument of Historical Contact and Cultural Transmission between India and Asia (Desai, 1970), traces of Ramayana story were found as early as fourteenth century. These traces were mainly in the forms of temple architecture. It then implies that the Ramayana stories were translated to Thai earlier than fourteenth century and spread among the local population by means of oral traditions. The two epics from India; the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, are very important sources from which came Thai dance and art forms. It also means that the translations of religious texts like the Tripitakas from Pali into Thai were accomplished much earlier than that.
By the time of King Rama I’s reign, literatures from neighboring countries like China and Laos had already been well-known in Thailand, though they were mainly in oral forms. King Rama I ordered many well-known Chinese texts to be translated into Thai, chief among these texts was Sam Kok or Three Kingdoms. In the case of literature from Laos, many folktales were being circulated orally among the people of the northeastern highlands. It was not really translation which took place then. This is interesting in terms of language medium. Laos is the language spoken by the people who lived on the other side of the Mekong River which was also clearly understood by the people who populated the Thailand-side of the river. The literature from Laos which largely comprised Ramayana stories were blended in with the Thai Ramayana tradition, and became the most prominent topics of entertainment for the people.
In the reign of King Rama IV, there were already many foreigners in the royal court. These foreigners were in positions of power. They had influenced the king in terms of his innovative thinking. The king had sent many of his sons to be educated in England. One of these princes would later come to be known as King Rama V the Great who arranged his grand tour to European countries, and who brought an end to the slave systems. From then on, it was a tradition for the royal members to be sent to study in England or the US.
The reign of King Rama VI, the son of King Rama V, was called the Golden Age of Thai literature because it was blessed with the King’s talents and his interests in literature. The King himself had translated many texts ranging from Indian literature to English literature. We also see an emergence of novel as a genre in Thai literature with the first complete translation of Vandetta by Marie Corelli. King Rama VI also wrote many books dealing with Ramayana stories.
When we come to the reign of King Rama IX, or King Bhumibol, a large amount of Japanese literature has been translated into Thai, especially the unique Japanese genre called manga. These manga have been translated into Thai which has proved popular among the general population. What needs to be noted is the fact that only a few numbers of literary Japanese texts have been translated in Thai. The manga is much more popular. The most important of Japanese writers who has been translated is Haruki Murakami.
Apart from English, Chinese, and Japanese texts, we also see an emergence of texts dealing with philosophy being translated into Thai from the European languages like French, German, Italian, Russian and Spanish. A few examples of these texts are Cervantes’ Don Quixote from the Spanish, Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose from the Italian and Tolstoy’s War and Peace. These texts are mostly directly translated from their original languages with an exception for War and Peace which has been translated from an English translation.
With the trend of Korean romance becoming prominent among Thai youngsters, we find new translators emerging in a large number. These new faces in a field of translation target the young Thais. The translational products of these translators are often met with skeptical scornful comments from critics of the literary circle. The critics’ argument is that the translated texts produced by the young translators from Korean romance lack language efficiency and often appeal only to the young, mainly college and school girls. These texts lose their original meanings and flavors in the process of translations.
In a recently held seminar on translation and interpretation in Bangkok, a group of famous and well known writers and interpreters, along with experts in the field of translations, compares the positions of writers and translators in the literary and academic circles. Texts produced by writers and those which have been translated are held in the same position. One of the translators in the said seminar pointed out that writers are those who chronicle events in the society, translators, on the other hands, are those who ‘transmit’ messages from one culture to another. Thus translation is an important practice which requires the practitioners to be efficient in many aspects. A translator needs to have a thorough knowledge of the source language and also that of the target language. A translator needs to have flexibility while he is in the process of translation.
In comparison to literary texts scientific texts are rarely translated into Thai. For example, Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has not been translated into Thai at all. On the other hand, works of Charles Darwin and Shakespeare have been found to be translated into Thai since the reign of King Rama VI. The king himself had rendered the play The Merchant of Venice of Shakespeare into Thai verses. Scientific texts are translated and used in academic syllabuses but otherwise it is rarely done. The scientific texts that get translated are those which have attracted the general readers, and those which do not deal with too difficult topics. The obstacles of translating scientific texts stem from the unique jargons used in those texts. It is often observed that jargons get translated and sometimes they are left as they are in the languages they were first written.
Throughout the history of translation in Thailand, there is a few works translated into other languages. A novel by the so-called Queen of Thai fictions Dhamayantri, Koo Kam was translated into English as Sunset at Chaophraya and also into Japanese. An award-winning The Happiness of Kati has been translated into English, Japanese and French. Another example is a political novel by the former Prime Minister of Thailand Krukrit Pramoj, Four Reigns. The novel has been both translated into English in unabridged and abridged versions in which parts of the story are cut. This leads to a trend that only the popular and award-winning books get translated, and the translation is done by native English speakers or, in some cases, with the help of the authors.
In conclusion, the trends of translation in Thailand lie heavily on domesticating the translated texts. The critics and translators in general agree that a translated text should be made to contain elements of the culture and language into which it is being translated, and at the same time retain its values and contents. The Thai critics and translators emphasize on the beautification of language. The language used should read smoothly and not to have a sense of foreign language in it that it is rendered unintelligible.
In recent years, many of the Thai fictions have had the opportunity of being translated into English or one or two of the far-eastern languages. It is hoped that in future the Thai literature would take its place in world literatures through means of translations.
Desai, Santosh N. “Ramayana: An Instrument of Historical Contact and Cultural Transmission between India and Asia.” The Journal of Asian Studies 30.1 (1970): 5-20. Web. 6 February 2011.
Jantasoka, Ponchai. “The Confession of Niida, in the world of Literature.” Life Style: Read & Write (2010) Bangkok Business. Web. 7 February 2011.
Panyapayatjati, Chatchawan. “Translated Works and Works of Fiction.” ArtGazinesArticles (2010). Web. 7 February 2011.
Raymond Williams, in Culture Is Ordinary, looks at culture through his and others’ perspectives. The stance which Williams has made is prominent throughout the essay: Culture for him is not the culture constructed by the elite groups but that which has grown out of the working class and the masses. Culture can be found in the homes of people and the various ways they entertain themself. For example, a mother sings a lullaby to a baby or a grandmother tells her grandchildren tales about terrifying monsters and charming princes who fight the monsters to rescue the beautiful princesses.
A culture has two aspects: First, it is the whole way of life, and, second, it is the arts and learning. In the first aspect, culture can be viewed through “the common meanings.” It is the common meanings that a society is found. Every society has its own characteristics, its own shapes, its own purposes. When a society is formed, the people in that society has some common characteristics, be it the same nationality, the same medium of communication, the same opinions about something, etc. The second aspect of culture is the “special process of discovery and creative effort,” that is, the arts and literature. Williams has given an example of a ‘teashop” at Cambridge. The people who go to the teashop are most of them not particularly learned but have indulged themselves in and practiced few arts. It means that they have some knowledge of some things or others in them, and they show that they have. This trend of going to a teashop is criticized by those people who are not part of the group. From this example we see that the people who go to the teashop must more or less share some sameness, be it the “trivial differences of behavior” or the “trivial variations of speech habit,” and this is a culture for them. This culture excludes people who are outside their circles. It suggests that those who want to be part of this culture must have practiced in one or other arts. Williams has something to say to this concept of culture. His question is: “What kind of a life can it be to produce this extraordinary fussiness, this extraordinary decision to call certain things culture and then separate them, as with a park wall, from ordinary people and ordinary work? This question he posted agrees with his view on the concept of culture that culture is ordinary.
In Culture Is Ordinary, Williams also raises an issue of the “English culture.” There are different English cultures. There is an English bourgeois culture with its educational, literary, and social institutions which are related to the center of power. There is also a growing institution of the working class which is also an English culture. Though both the bourgeois and the working class cultures are not the same but they belong to the category of English culture. There is also a question of people belonging to one culture wanting to be part of another culture. The working class, for that matter, does not want to get into the closely restricted bourgeois culture. The working class has its distinct way of life: “its emphases on neighborhood, mutual obligation, and common betterment, as expressed in the great working-class political and industrial institutions.” This culture of the working class can be the best basis for any future English society.
Williams, Raymond. “Culture Is Ordinary.” Cultural Theory: An Anthology. Ed. Imre Szeman and Timothy Kaposy. Pondicherry: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011. 53-59. Print.
Translation, both commercially and literally, is an activity that is growing phenomenally in today’s globalized world. The study of translation, an interdisciplinary field known as Translation studies, has also developed enormously in the past twenty years. It interfaces with a wide range of other disciplines from linguistics to modern languages and Cultural studies and post-colonialism. With regard to the importance of translation in the globalization era, this paper aims to outline the trends and debate regarding the translation studies in the contemporary Thailand.
Translation of foreign texts into Thai had been manifested a long time ago. Such manifestations can be located in many Thai classical literary texts. The essential theme of these texts was often associated with aspects pertaining to religion and drama. However, characteristics of Thai classical literature resulted from the contact with southern China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Burma, Laos, and Vietnam. Hence, what we know as Thai classical literature today is in fact the adaptation of her neighboring countries’ literatures rather than purely her own established literature. Such literatures tend to reveal the Thai cultures which have been influenced by other cultures. For instance, the varied Indian and Chinese cultures. Most of the Thai classical literatures are written in verse in different patterns.
The most prominent and well known Thai classical literatures consist of five different stories. These are The Romance of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, the Ramakian, the Romance of Inao, Sam Kok, and Phra Aphaimani. Among these texts, only The Romance of Khun Chang Khun Phaen, was composed based on pure Thai culture. The remaining were translated from Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese, and western languages such as French and English.
Overview of the history of Thai classical literatures provides us the knowledge of most of Thai classical literatures which are borrowed from foreign literatures. Hence this duty significant information implies that the translation have long been practiced in Thailand for many centuries past. Although there were traces of translation in Thailand for many centuries, very few discussions regarding the history of translation, or its contemporary trends and debate on translation in Thailand have been published. However, for a certainly none have been discussed as an academic discipline until the present time, in part because so few people are active in this particular area. It would be hard to list out the number of Thai people who translate Thai literature into English or other languages. However, we could see a further number of Thai people translating foreign literatures into Thai language. If little is being discussed, as a result, even less is being published. This can be explained by the lack of awareness of Thailand and its literature in the world, at large.
In modern days, globalization seems to be the most prominent word which has a significant role of acting as catalyst to motivation or to drive us into the world of technology and computerized space. The impact of globalization also invades the space of translation as well, particularly in the translation space in Thailand. The impact of globalization is the functional determinant for the translator to choose “what to translate” and “to whom the translation is meant for”.
In Thailand, the paradigm shift of translation have been clearly presented through the corresponding selection of literary genre. In the past, many translated literatures in Thailand were generally dealing with religious and cultural themes, Buddhism and Hinduism in predominating over several others. Afterwards however, Western literature was introduced into the country, ever since, there have been constant translations mostly through the medium of English. More recently however, there has arisen a quest to write Thai novels and short stories in the Western style, some of Shakespeare's works such as Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, and also a number of English and French plays. Many of them were adapted and staged, giving an impetus to a new kind of performance. Hence we will see many Thai literatures being translated from English and Sanskrit classical dramas, for instance, Sakuntala and Savitri. We could say that through the earlier kings’ geniuses and influences, a new era of Thai literature has evolved and developed up until now. However, this trends have been transcended/ been given a makeshift, As such, modern Thai readers tend to read the translated novels which have themes based on romance or thrillers, action packaged or etc.
In the present day, it is increasingly noted that many Thai individuals are taking marked interest in reading translated versions of the vampire romance of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight Saga, thriller stories; these are similar to those of Dan Brown's history-related mysteries, such as, cooking books, children's picture books, and Thai cultural heritage books. These makeshift trends of the readers’ interest from religious classical literary texts such as Ramakien to romance such as the Twilight Saga, and from Sanskrit to English and other European languages could be a possible the impact of globalization.
Today, translation need not be the sole means for the translation of literary texts. Plenty will be seen also a lot more in terms of the translation for business purposes. The source and target language of translation can nonetheless be varies. For instance, in Thailand, the upcoming of Japanese and Korean as target languages in translation is popular. This is because of business expansion in today’s world. Hence, we also see the shift of the translation purposes from entertainment to business and economic development in the competitive world we all live in at the present.
In the light of the argument above, we finally arrive at the significant axiom, Is there Any Debate of Translation in Thailand? The answer for this is “Yes, there is.” The reason for this is the recent, mode of effective translation which has been the focal point of the debate, for many critics regarding the translation in Thailand. In western world, over several centuries there has been a debate about how the text should be translated. Some may suggest that the text should be translated word to word, some suggest for sense to sense translation, and some for literal translation. In Thailand, A literal or "word for word" translation cannot be applied for the translation of foreign language into Thai or the other way around. If a translator tries to translate a saying or motto from English to Thai, that translated sentence would certainly end up being completely out of context which could possibly border on the nonsensical when read in Thai from English.
A translation of Thai verse into English is also another hot debate in the present time. There would be not much problem for Thai translator to translate other foreign poems into Thai verse, but it will not be practical for a foreign translator to transform Thai verses into English or any other languages. Many people could translate Japanese or Chinese literature into English, and they would succeed in doing it. But in terms of Thai verses, certainly few foreign translators could succeed in transforming the aesthetics of Thai verses into foreign languages. If they happen to translate Thai verses into English or other languages’, the result is the loss of either “content” or “form”. This is because very rarely translator could keep the balance between these two extremes when they translate Thai verses into foreign languages.
Error in translation is another aspect in the debate of translation in Thailand at the present time. Based on Nitaya Suksaeresup’s research on the error on translation, this paper aims at finding the sources of errors in translating from English to Thai. It is postulated that there are two major sources: the translator's erroneous reading of the English text and misinterpretation of English lexical meaning. The first one involves misunderstanding of the English text, while the second involves wrong propositional and expressive meanings.
Machine translation is another interesting topic for the debate on translation in the present scenario. This debate is not being discussed only in the Western part of the world but also a hot debate of translation in Thailand as well. Therefore the general outline of the debate on machine translation in Thailand is similar to the West. In Thailand, Translation shifted its focus dramatically from the translation of literary texts to other kinds of text and electronic Media as well. Today, we see that not only literary texts have been translated but also the movies, films and other kind of Thai texts. The replacement of the machine in translation has created a lot of difference between human translator and machine translator. This gives rise to the question whether machine translators could replace human translators? In Thailand, the problem with machine translation is that it cannot give a proper translation of the texts or movies. The machine tends to translate from word to word which the readers or the audiences could not make sense out of the translated text. Sometimes, the translated text has the meaning which seems to be out of context. The problems in machine translation form English to Thai or Thai to English can be found such as complex sentences cannot be translated, less vocabularies in the translation system, and the ambiguity between sentences and noun phrases is still unsolvable.
Generally, it is easy to translate foreign language into Thai language but it is more difficult to do otherwise. Machine translation is helpful but somehow it cannot give a better translation than what a human translator can give through accurate sound effects and expressions. The problems of translation in Thailand are mostly the same everywhere else.
Therefore, the contemporary trends of translation in Thailand are clearly shown that its shift has occurred because of the influence of globalization. Globalization is considered to be a major factor which has influences the shift of translation genre from past to present, the shift of the source language from Pali and Chinese to English and French and other languages, the shift of reader’s interest from traditional literature which has religious and cultural themes to western romance like Vampire romance etc. In terms of the debate on translation in Thailand, we see that the topics which are being discussed are not different than the debates on translation theory in the west.
Homi Bhaba in his ‘The Location of Culture’ quotes Walter Benjamin and says that “Translation passes through continua of transformation, not abstract ideas of identity and similarity”. Thus according to Walter Benjamin there can never be anything like a perfect translation and in turn nothing called an ideal translator. Benjamin believes that translation is not about similarity but a transformation. This same theory can be applied to even in the field of self translation. Literary self translation like translation itself is a process in which a text is translated from the source language to the target language with the only exception that the author of the text becomes the translator of the text. Since the source text is created by the author himself, it is not wrong to believe that the author should have a command over the text and thus if he is expected to translate his work, he should be able to do so perfectly since he has the best knowledge of the text. This however does not happen. Rabindranath Tagore’s Gitanjali is an example of the myth that self translation is the ideal translation.
Gitanjali is a collection of one hundred and three verses that the poet himself translated. Much has already been debated on the reasons behind these translations and on whether he deserved the Nobel Prize or not. However from the perspective of self translation it would not be out of place to try and locate Gitanjali as a piece of self translated work and try and understand through it, the politics of self translation. The first verse in the Bengali text reads:
Amare tumi ashesh korecho
Emni leela tobo
Furiye fele abare bhorecho
Jeebon nobo nobo
Tagore translated the same verse in English as:
Thou hast made me endless, such is thy pleasure
This frail vessel thou emptiest again and again,
And fillest it ever with fresh life.
When we try and compare the two verses, we see that though he has been successful in maintaining the overall meaning, he has made certain compromises and changes. First and foremost the structure of the verse itself has changed drastically. While writing in Bengali, he has used a rhyme scheme of abab; however while translating he does away with this rhyme scheme. Also ‘pleasure’ is not an equivalent translation of the Bengali word ‘leela’. ‘Leela’ is a religious term and is used to commonly refer to god’s game play with the human race and not so much pleasure. Another observation is his use of metaphors while translating into English. ‘jeebon’ (life) is translated as ‘frail vessel’. Going back to talking about the structure in verse XXX he takes two lines to express what he writes in five lines in Bengali.
Saathe saathe ke chole mor
Chadate chai onek kore
Ghure feli, jaye je shore
Mone kori aapod geche
Aabar dekhi tare
The above lines he translates into English in just three lines:
But who is this that follows me in the silent dark?
I move aside to avoid his presence
But I escape him not.
This can be because of the fact that it is believed that Tagore gave more importance to ideas than to the structural framework. Thus he emphasized more on the lyrical qualities.
One of the main aims of translation (be it self- translated or not), is to convey the message as accurately as possible. When we read Gitanjali in English, it is very evident through words like ‘thou’, ‘thee’, ‘thy’ etc, that the verses are addressed to God. They can be seen as hymns or even prayers for God. However when we read the Bengali version of the same, we cannot dismiss the verses as just hymns sung to the almighty. They can also be seen as songs or poems written for a beloved. There is no archaism or loftiness in the way the verses have been written in Bengali. The tone is informal. Thus though the source text (Gitanjali written in Bengali in this case) can be interpreted in more than one way, Tagore consciously constructs the English translation in such a way that not many interpretations can be possible. One of the possible reasons behind this can be that Tagore was very concerned about his target audience (the west). He was aware that the west saw India as a land of mysticism. He wanted to build on it and thus we find Gitanjali (the English translation) to be full of mysticism and spiritual thoughts.
After reading his English translations, it would not be wrong to think that Tagore was keener on expressing his emotions rather than strictly translating his Bengali work. Thus he does not follow any particular pattern of translation. While translating some verses he follows a word to word translation, whereas on other occasions he follows the method of paraphrasing. Many critics believe that Tagore feared that the west would not be able to understand the cultural nuances of his country and thus he chose simple English word that though would not accurately match the Bengali one, would however succeed in putting across his emotions to the western readers.
Hence, Tagore as a self translator takes a lot of liberties while translating. His English version of the Gitanjali is less of a translation of the Bengali text and can be considered more of a trans- creation. Tagore’s Gitanjali contributes to the larger debate of whether self- translation is the ideal translation and it also questions the stance that the author/translator takes while translating his own work.
In his essay, Raymond Williams presents us with the notion that a society is forged from its members’ formation of common meanings and directions, its growth actively debated under the pressures of experience, contact, and discovery. This definition serves as segue into the main idea, that culture is ordinary, composed of two distinct parts: “the known meanings and directions, which its members are trained to; the new observations and meanings, which are offered and tested”. This paper aims to examine Raymond William’s notion of culture and his interpretation of culture in the scope of cultural studies.
Williams begins his discussion on Culture as Ordinary with a short description of his experience of childhood home in Wales. Then, Williams presents us with the notion that a society is formed based on how its members find common meaning and directions. Its growth actively is ensured under the pressures of experience, contact, and discovery. Based on this understanding William says that culture is ordinary, and composed of two distinct parts: “the known meanings and directions, which its members are trained to and the new observations and meanings, which are offered and tested.”
He also speaks two conceptions of culture he has encountered and rejects them. He calls them as “down-the-nose,” and “bad-mouthing.” Those who stand for the type of culture are committed to the notion that the only culture is high culture—art, music, literature, etc. Williams rejects this notion and sys it is only a means of maintaining a power division between cultivated and common folk, and adds that he has encountered fine examples of art in the company common people. He also rejects the second rejected notion of culture saying that it is at the opposite end of the spectrum. The bad-mouthers perceive culture as solely high culture, and label such work that of do-gooders and highbrows.
Williams also offers a brief discussion of some of the ideas of Marx and Leavis that have come to shape his own thinking. Williams discusses the three Marxist ideas that “matter” in the discussion of culture:
1. That culture must be interpreted by its underlying system of production,
2. That the masses are considered “ignorant,”
3. And that for socialism to succeed, a person must write, think and learn in “certain prescribed ways.”
He refutes the second notion by stating that the working class are not restricted, but are instead gaining access to institutions of learning and developing their own culture.
Williams then moves on to Leavis’s idea that as England has became industrialized and vulgar, art and thinking have suffered, Williams also rejects this view too. It based on his own working class root. He and his family view the technological advances and easing of labor from industrialization as an advantage, a newly acquired from of power. This leads Williams to his suggestion of how we can move into an age of economic abundance and productive common culture: by disproving two false equations, one false analogy, and one false proposition.
The proposition is that ugliness and pollution are a price all cultures must pay for the economic power that comes from industrialization. Williams posits cleaner, less-abrasive technology and responsible industry as a solution.
The equations are that popular education gives rise to commercial culture. The over-crowding of industrialization, coupled with mass communication, led to the construction of the masses. According to Williams there are no masses, only ways of constructing people as such. Along with this comes the discussion of the false analogy, which is that bad culture will drive out good culture. Williams cites rising instances of literature, quality periodicals, and literacy to debunk this idea. The author ends the piece with the idea that culture and its inherent elements are expanding, and that this phenomenon must be studied.
Edwards, Phil. Culture as ordinary: Raymond Williams and Cultural Materialism. July 1999.
Date of access 23 Feb., 2011. Web.
In the essay, The Politics of Reading; Essays on Interpretations Ferretter points out that Althusser finds a reading practice, he describes it as ‘symptomatic reading’ in Marx’s analysis of previous economists in capital. In this kind of reading, Marx pays attention to the gaps, contradictions and other logical flaws in the texts he analyses, and shows that these are signs of another set of ideas at work in the texts, of which their authors are unconscious. This kind of reading, Althusser argues, is based on a theory of knowledge as a process of production. Economist before Marx had produced knowledge of certain economic facts, where not able to understand or to name them in the terms of ideological problamatics with in which they thought. Althusser’s student Pierre Macherey works out the consequences of this theory for literary criticism. It follows from the science of history, as Althusser understands it, that literary works are produced from the raw materials of ideology. Although ideologies seem, when we live in them, to constitute a more or less complete account of the world, in fact, as misrepresentations of historical reality, they are necessarily incomplete. When they are worked up in to literary texts, this incompleteness is shown up, in the gaps, contradictions and other flaws in those texts. A literary test, for Macherey, has no ‘unity’, as bourgeois criticism supposes, but rather consists of conflicting and contradictory elements, irreducible to the intention of its author. As his reading of Jules Verne’s The Mysterious Island makes clear, scientific literary criticism focus on these conflicting elements, explaining their relationships to be a result of historically misrepresentative character of the ideologies out of which they are made. From 1967, Althusser develops his ‘second definition’ of philosophy, as the ‘class struggle in theory’. From this definition, it follows that literary criticism is political intervention in the field of cultural practice, which serves the interests either of the exploiting or the exploited classes of the society in which it is practiced.
Ferretter, Luke. Louis Althusser; Canada: Routledge Publications, 2007. Print
In the essay, “The Subject and Power”, Michel Foucault explores and investigates the relations of power. He states that when a human subject is placed in relations of production, he is equally placed in complex power relations. Foucault clarifies that it is not power, but the subject which is the theme of his research. However, he wishes to access the subject by exploring the intricacies of the relations of power. He states that there is a scarcity of good instruments and tools to study (understand and analyze) power. Foucault points out that in order to facilitate a good critical conceptualization of power, historical awareness of the present conditions is required along with the knowledge of the type of reality that one is dealing with.
Foucault demonstrates that an abstract investigation of “reason” is not useful in ascertaining conceptual clarity about the relations of power because it will mislead us into the deadlock of the debate between rationalism and irrationalism. In his opinion, investigating the general reason of the Enlightenment will also not allow for the conceptualization of power. Instead, he proposes that we should look at the rationalities in specific fields in terms of fundamental experiences, for example, looking at specific instances of madness, illness, death, crime, sexuality etc. He states that the investigation of the forms of resistance can also be used to reveal power relations.
Foucault elucidates the characteristics of anti-authority struggles: 1. The struggles are transversal and hence not confined to a particular geography, economy of political form of government. 2. The aim of the struggles is to combat the effects of power. 3. The struggles are “immediate” in that they do not locate the “chief enemy” but look for the immediate enemy i.e., criticize instances of power which are closest to them. 4. The struggles question the status of the individual. 5. The struggles are an opposition to the effects of power that are linked to knowledge, competence, and qualification and also an opposition against secrecy, deformation and mystifying representations imposed on people. 6. The struggles revolve around the question: Who are we?
Foucault states that the main objective of class struggle is to attack not the opposing class or institutions of power but rather to attack a technique or form of power. Foucault asserts that this form of power applies itself to immediate everyday life, categorizes the individual and thereby makes the individuals subjects. Foucault advances two meanings of the “subject”: subject to someone by control and dependence and subject tied to one’s own identity by a conscience or self-knowledge. However, both these meanings suggest a form of power which subjugates and makes subject to. Foucault categorizes struggles into three types: 1. Struggle against forms of domination. 2. Struggle against forms of exploitation. 3. Struggle against subjection, forms of subjectivity and submission.
Foucault asserts that the struggles of subjection are caused because of the fact that the modern state is similar to the new form of pastoral power. Pastoral power can be characterized as follows: 1. Its ultimate objective is to assure salvation in next world. 2. It is potentially sacrificial in the sense that it is prepared to sacrifice itself for benefit of the masses. 3. It practices life-long individualizing of its subjects 4. It holds the knowledge about the conscience of people and possesses the ability to control it.
Pastoral power therefore produces and reproduces the truth of the individual through the manipulation of people’s conscience. The new form of pastoral power spread throughout social field while being regulated by state. The characteristics of the new form of pastoral power were as follows: 1. The objective was changed from salvation in the next world to salvation in this world. Health, well-being, security, protection against accidents etc. were endorsed as the components of salvation in this world. 2. There was an increase in the agents and officials of pastoral power. 3. The development of the knowledge of man was encouraged around two roles: globalizing and quantitative, concerning the population and analytical, concerning the individual. Hence, pastoral power that had been initially liked to religious institutions spread out to the entire social body as it found support in a multitude of institutions.
Foucault declares that the reason why it is difficult for a subject to break away from ideology is because of the political structure of the state. Foucault affirms that the state uses a tricky combination of individualization as well as totalizing procedures to trap the subject in a “double bind”, making it extremely difficult for the subject to overcome any form of subjection. Foucault asserts that the solution to the problem is not to liberate the individual from the state (and it apparatuses and institutions) alone but to liberate the individual both from the state as well as the form of individualization that is linked to the state. Foucault is in favour of exploring the possibilities of new forms of subjectivity through the refusal of both the subjectivity as well as individuality imposed by the state and its institutions.
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
The following write up is by Vandana S.
It talks about ‘Culture’ and ‘Cultural Studies’ based on the reading of the chapter Cultural Studies and Cultural Theory from the book Contemporary Cultural Theory by Andrew Milner and Jeff Browitt.
Cultural Studies attained an important position in the academic circles during the last quarter of the twentieth century. The obvious meaning of cultural studies is that it is the academic study of culture. But the problem, however, is that there is absolutely no agreement as to what exactly we mean by ‘culture’. The word ‘culture’ is one of the most widely used abstract nouns in the lexicon. The different meanings attributed to ‘culture’ are ambiguous.
In his first major work, Culture and Society 1780-1950 Raymond Williams drew attention to four important kinds of meaning that attached to ‘culture’: an individual habit of mind; the state of intellectual development of a whole society; the arts; and the whole way of life of a group of people. In his later book Keywords, only the latter three usages remained in play. He reintroduced the first usage in his sociology textbook, Culture, grouping it together with the second and third as ‘general’, and contrasting these with the fourth. According to Williams “the complexity, that is to say, is not finally in the word but in the problems which its variations of use significantly indicate. The range and overlap of meanings, the distinctions simultaneously elided and insisted upon, are all in themselves ‘significant’.
Geoffrey Hartman, Professor of English and Comparative Literature at
With the culture wars, cultural studies became a ‘proto-discipline’ in American higher education. Cultural studies as a discipline is deeply indebted to the pioneering work of the Birmingham Centre founded in 1946, as a graduate research unit under the directorship of Richard Hoggart. The Centre became the intellectually pre-eminent institutional location for cultural studies, both in
Milner, Andrew, and Jeff Browitt. Contemporary Cultural Theory. New Delhi: Rawat Publications, 2002.
Nationalism involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. Often, it is the belief that an ethnic group has a right to statehood, or that citizenship in a state should be limited to one ethnic group, or that multinationality in a single state should necessarily comprise the right to express and exercise national identity even by minorities.
It can also include the belief that the state is of primary importance, or the belief that one state is naturally superior to all other states. It is also used to describe a movement to establish or protect a homeland (usually an autonomous state) for an ethnic group. In some cases the identification of a national culture is combined with a negative view of other races or cultures.
Conversely, nationalism might also be portrayed as collective identities towards imagined communities(The imagined community is a concept coined by Benedict Anderson which states that a nation is a community socially constructed, which is to say imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group), which are not naturally expressed in language, race or religion but rather socially constructed by the very individuals that belong to a given nation. Nationalism is sometimes reactionary, calling for a return to a national past, and sometimes for the expulsion of foreigners. Other forms of nationalism are revolutionary, calling for the establishment of an independent state as a homeland for an ethnic underclass.
Nationalism emphasizes collective identity - a 'people' must be autonomous, united, and express a single national culture. However, some nationalists stress individualism as an important part of their own national identity. National flags, national anthems, and other symbols of national identity are often considered sacred, as if they were religious rather than political symbols.
According to Ashis Nandy, since the mid 1980’s, there are three major concerns that has infected our view of nationalism. First being the diminishing role of the sacred in daily life, even though India is seen as a country flooded with religions and rituals. The traditional religious sensitivity has weakened up since people move from villages to cities, from state to state and from one linguistic zone to another. This uprooting has created a need for a generalized version of faith, in which a person who moves from Kerala to Uttar Pradesh can continue to believe that he is a part of his religion. So atlast secularization of life has accentuated the fear of losing one’s faith.
The second concern is the result of urbanization. India is still predominantly a rural society. However, urban norms, life styles and tastes have begun to make their presence felt in a way that would have been unthinkable two decades ago. The cities have opened up the possibility for an individual to escape and reinvent himself in an ambience of anonymity and impersonality. We know that the rural poverty has been considered to be one of the most important problems of the country in recent decades. Despite having spent huge sums of money on rural poverty alleviation, the incidence of poverty has not reduced to the desired levels. Gradually, poorer people in rural areas began to realise that it was a good idea to migrate to the cities to get productive employment that helps to cross the poverty line. Migration to cities is considered to be a serious problem and most of the political parties as well as the municipal bodies are generally interested in reversing this trend of rapid urbanization. But migration is not the only reason for growth of the cities. Internal growth of cities and inclusion of the periphery areas are two other reasons for growth of the urban areas. It is expected that in the coming two decades, the urban population share in the total population of the country would increase to 50 per cent.
Rural poor come to the cities and towns to look for productive work with a view to get two square meals for their families and secure better education for their children. They also migrate to the cities to ensure that they are able to lead a better life than their forefathers and the cities act as the dream destinations for the poor for a better tomorrow. But more often than not, their dreams get shattered as they arrive in the cities. They are hassled by the problems like lack of affordable housing, lack of availability of clean drinking water, lack of cleanliness, sanitation and other civic amenities.
Problems In Urbanisation
Lack of civic amenities is yet another problem. As per 2001 slum census only 65.4 per cent of the households in the cities and towns had access to drinking water within their premises. Remaining households either had the water supply source outside their premises or away from their houses.
Urbanisation - Source of lighting: Source of lighting is another important area which was surveyed during the census. Though the percentage of households having an electric source of energy was much higher than in the rural areas, yet more than 12 per cent of the households in the urban areas did not have an electric source of lighting and had to depend on other sources like kerosene. About 0.4 per cent of the households in cities and towns had no source of lighting at all.
Urbanisation - Availability of education facilities : In the urban areas is also a key area, particularly for the poor. While the affluent and upper middle classes normally have best of educational facilities available to them in the cities, the poorer sections find it hard to have access even to basic educational facilities. The level of male and female literacy rates in the slum areas is distinctly lower than non-slum population of cities, with Patna recording highest difference of almost 30 per cent between the level of literacy rates in slum and non-slum areas of city.
Urbanisation – Healthcare facilities : Lack of good healthcare facilities is also an area of serious concern. As per the report of a Task Force appointed by the government of India to advise on health scenario in the urban slums, it was pointed out that 6 out of 10 children in slum areas are delivered at home in Indian slums. Further, more than half of India’s urban poor children are underweight and the state of under-nutrition in urban areas is worse than in the rural areas. Reach and utilisation of essential preventive health services by the urban poor is generally found to be very low and about 60 per cent of the children below one year of age are not fully immunized.
In addition to the above mentioned problems pertaining to urban and social services, there are serious gaps in the availability of infrastructure facilities in urban areas. Roads are getting congested with more and more new vehicles getting registered every day and parking has become a serious problem in most urban areas. Solid waste management is also a serious problem in the country, particularly in the cities. Safe disposal of the solid waste in a scientific manner is a major issue in Indian cities and towns. With over 350 million people living in urban areas and generating millions of tonnes of garbage every day, without proper arrangements for safe disposal of the garbage serious problem of water contamination and environment pollution is on the anvil. The problem is worst in the areas inhabited by the poor and in the slums. So urbanization in India did more evil than good. Considering the migrants Ashis Nandy says that If one happens to be a first-generation migrant to the city, one is bound to look back nostalgically on the life and social ties he/she has left behind, and seeks the old sense of belonging.
Third concern, since the 1830s, the Indian middle class has been consistently exposed to a form of modern education that has underwritten a global hierarchy of cultures. Over 150 years they have come to believe that western societies are modern and Indian society is premodern and backward. Distinctions between westernisation and modernisation have not touched the bulk of western educated modern Indians, who are convinced that their future lies in being exactly like Europe and North America. Do not be taken in by radical rhetoric. If you examine where most of our Left and Swadeshiwallahs send their children to study, you will find remarkably little difference between them and other sections of the Indian bourgeoisie. Inevitably, modern Indians have come to live with a deep feeling of inadequacy. They seek parity, not with other Asian countries doing well, but with the West itself. Last year, a study found that Indians are the most nationalistic people in the world, overtaking countries like the US, Japan and Pakistan.This nationalism is propelled by a deep sense of inferiority.
The only set of political actors who have responded to these anxieties are the Hindu nationalists,( Hindu nationalism has been collectively referred to the expressions of social and political thought, based on the native spiritual and cultural traditions of historical India.) though their close competitors, the Islamic fundamentalists, too have come close to reacting to these anxieties. During the first 40 years of Indian independence, the electoral support base of the Hindu nationalists ranged between seven to nine percent approximately. It has expanded to more than 20 percent now. This support base is disproportionately higher among the urban middle classes and among educated, modern Indians. The support base of Hindu nationalism is more than 90 per cent. It is true that this base is unlikely to rise much further. But even this base goes a long way in Indian politics today, given the fragmented party space. The democratic process in India has brought close to power many social sectors that would not have dreamt of having access to power only 30 years ago. But in the process of creating a nation-state called India, this process has also ensured that those who are close to the Indian state also imbibe its global, homogenising message. Ashis Nandy says that if one wants to be successful as a nation-state in the global arena, one has to do to his/her cultural diversity, to the minorities, the forest dwellers and the tribes, what Europe and North America and Australia have done to theirs. According to him The Hindu nationalists seem well-equipped and well-qualified to do so.
This paper is a summary of the essay ‘Natural Selection and Cultural Rates of Change’ by Deborah S, Rogers and Paul R. Ehrlich from the Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University and was published by the National Academy of Sciences. The essay focuses on cultural evolution. It claims that a meaningful theory is not possible as it is understood that human beliefs and behaviours do not have patterns that can be predictable. But in the development of societies it is believed that patterns in cultural evolution do occur. This excerpt analyses how two sets of related cultural traits, one that is tested against the environment and the other not. The final outcome is how they both evolve at different rates among the same populous. Ultimately the analysis boils down to a point which indicates how cultural change like that of genetic evolution can follow theoretically derived patterns.
As stated earlier, scientific theory of cultural evolution is not possible as critiques of cultural evolution from the science domain object that analogies with genetic evolution do not hold. They also argue that culture is altered by a series of historical events. The way biologists have developed theoretical models to understand patterns in genetic evolution; certain theorists have tried it in cultural evolution as well. It refers to the change in the behaviour affected by transmission and innovation. But it does not still answer the question if it helps in comprehending the patterns through theoretical models. The next argument is, cultural characteristics that are tested against the environment evolve faster than that of characteristics that are not tested. Several examples are given to prove the same. But is it possible that this can be applied to cultural evolution? Human cultural groups, like genetic demes, live in different environments and have a high rate of within group exchange of traits but also have the potential for some exchange with other groups through migration and cultural borrowing.
In order to understand the traits of cultural evolution ten Polynesian island groups were studied. Polynesia is a useful model system for looking at cultural development because this region was originally colonized by one cultural group and then it set of to related islands. The traits were divided into functional and symbolic traits and through canoe designs it was analysed. The final outcome shows that the environmental characteristics are faster than the other ones and this is clearly depicted in Figure 1, 2 and 3. The results indicate that functional traits have changed at a slower rate than the symbolic traits. These results suggest that cultural changes are evolutionary and it happens through theoretical based patterns.
The methods that were chosen for this study; 1. Presence/Absence Data Matrix, 2. Jaccard Distance Matrices, 3. Mantel Test, 4. Sign Test, and 5. Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Randomization. These methods help in finding out the results that prove the thesis statement of the essay. This proves how cultural change like that of genetic evolution can follow theoretically derived patterns.
Referencehttp://www.jstor.org/stable/25461249 Vol. 105, No. 9 (March 4, 2008) pp 3416 – 3420
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a documentary by Michael Moore. It deals with the assaults of 9/11 and the subsequent invasion and occupation of Iraq. This documentary shows the world the pitfalls of American political thinking. American politics reduce every political issue to psychoanalysis of individual motives, the politics of the individual and sociological discussions of racism.
This political documentary, released in 2004, serves as a treatise against theBush administration. It highlights what Moore sees as governmental corruption and disinformation by the former president and his staff in the wake of theSeptember 11, 2001, terrorism attacks, and in the lead up to the American invasion of Iraq. At the time of its release, Fahrenheit 9/11 was a critical success, sparking widespread debate about the United States’ involvement in Iraq and raising public outcry against Bush administration policies.
An ideology can be understood as a set of ideas that constitutes one's goals, expectations, and actions. An ideology can be a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things. The main purpose behind an ideology is to offer either change in society, or adherence to a set of ideals where conformity already exists, through a normative thought process.
Fahrenheit 9/11 is a film that politically attacks the President of the United States. The film started with the 2000 U.S.Presidential Elections wherein Bush “supposedly won” against Al Gore and moved forward to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and how Bush dealt with the war in Iraq. One can simply recognize the propaganda that Moore made. In order to be able to convince people watching, he made footages that made his arguments looked more persuasive. He described Bush as a President who spent most of his time on vacation.
Moore made an attempt to convince Americans that the current President is not doing his job and thus Bush and his administration was only deceiving the people. After the attack, he let the family of Osama Bin Laden leave the country and the investigations were delayed. The documentary then shows the initial reactions of Bush when he came to know about the attack. He is seen in Florida with the local school children. Innocent lives were not spared, several US soldiers died and their families were grieving but until this time Bin Laden was not caught. In general, Moore wanted to impart in his documentary film that Bush lacks political planning, cleverness, and interest to handle seriously his position. The main purpose behind conveying this ideology is to show Bush as an irresponsible president.
The Americans were grieving as well as the world when the 9/11 happened. Bush declared war against Bin Laden and attacked Afghanistan, his reason was the Taliban were protecting Bin Laden. Bush tried to warn the American to enjoy life but be very observant, the result was fear and unsecured environment. The information that he handed were all against Bush. Moore has not shown the real essence of the existence of Bush to the Americans.
One of the most powerful statement occurred in the documentary at the end, when Moore refers to the powers that keep the masses ignorant and apathetic. It is their ignorance and consent, which keeps the hierarchal nature of our society intact.
This can be seen in relation to Gramsci's notion of ideology hegemony. Ideology is here defined as "meaning making in the service of power". So hegemony is a way of meaning making that carries with it a politics of domination. It is the theory that the rulers of society maintain their rule by winning over the normal understandings held by the masses (i.e. in Fahrenheit 9/11the woman who responds to Lila Lipscomb's grief over the death of her son by telling her to blame "al quada" illustrates this).
Gramsci used the term hegemony to denote the predominance of one social class over others. This represents not only political and economic control, but also the ability of the dominant class to project its own way of seeing the world so that those who are subordinated by it accept it as 'common sense' and 'natural'. This film is full of emotional, documentary dramatics, is still a valid and intensely powerful piece of counter-hegemony.
Counter-hegemony refers to attempts to critique or dismantle hegemonic power. In other words, it is a confrontation and/or opposition to existing status quo and its legitimacy in politics. It can also be observed in various other spheres of life, such as history, media, music, etc. Neo-Gramscian theorist Nicola Pratt has described counter-hegemony as “a creation of an alternative hegemony on the terrain of civil society in preparation for political change”
The documentary critically looks at the presidency of George W. Bush, the War on Terror, and it coverage in the news media. It encourages people to share their view against hegemony through the use of persuasion and/or propaganda whilst raising awareness. It convincingly argues that the Bush administration manipulated the terrorist threat to foster fear among the American people and build support for an invasion of Iraq. The film provides us with an alternative hegemony to Bush in preparation for political change. Bush is shown as all powerful and also irresponsible. He is shown going for a holidaying after winning the election.
In addition, Moore provides viewers with the horrific war footage of Iraqis and American soldiers that have been missing from Pentagon-manipulated media coverage of the war. The face of war is not pretty, and Moore disturbs and challenges us with these images. Moore concludes his film by asserting that we should never again risk the lives of our young people in wars that are not essential for the country’s security.
Political ideology of Moore, Fahrenheit 9/11 does raise some troubling questions which should be part of the political discourse in a democracy which values free speech and artistic freedom. The movie ends with Bush’s paraphrased quote of “fool me once…” after which Moore quips, “For once we agreed.” As the Internet culture evolves, audiences are demanding the right to participate in media culture and are pulling together to produce answers and solutions. Fahrenheit 9/11 had a lasting effect on the social consciousness and led to a convergence of politically targeted documentary films.