Manifesto

The Queer Translation Collective (QTC) represents a vision of a collective in the generative process of creating a community between living and dead queer subjects, recuperated or still waiting to be unsilenced. As practitioners, we reject the notion of a single monolithic human history. As Queering Translation Practitioners, we embrace the cyclical nature of indigenous temporalities and deny the denial of the coevalness of parallel histories, epistemologies and ontologies. In this way, we enact resistance to those hegemonic forces that seek to naturalize, pathologize and commoditize all human experience.

This manifesto, written by graduate student, Jon D Jaramillo as the culmination of his specialization in translation studies at the University of Oregon, is the product of many years of multidisciplinary study and research in Romance Languages, Translation Theory and Queer Theory. This manifesto is grounded in Marxist, Benjaminian and Kuschian philosophical and political reflections in dialogue with many contemporary feminist, gay, lesbian, transgendered, and queer theorists who have interrogated normalizing discourses and built theoretical artifices that assist us in the onerous task of radically existing in a ubiquitous hegemony of power that seeks to assimilate and homogenize all difference. This manifesto is by no means definitive, rather it is a “work in progress,” in a continuous state of “becoming.” The manifesto serves as a point of departure for discussion and exploration.

Please note: the PDF of this manifesto is made available to you under a Creative Commons license, not for commercial distribution, it can only be shared for free.

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Manifesto

Queer(ing) translation (QT) is a political process that emphasizes bodies. It is a practice that emphasizes alternative bodies on the margins of exclusions, abjections, and oppressions, in movement, in transformation, and in a fluidity of expressions, embodiments, and manifestations. QT practice challenges and complicates the grammar of identity with synonyms, antonyms, and rhetorical dissonance. It rejects the binary use of gendered pronouns that erases same sex desire. It embraces pronoun playfulness. It underscores the relationship between translation and Walter Benjamin’s trans-living, the survival or “living on” of an original text rendered in translation.

Trans-living allows queer subjects previously silenced or erased to be recuperated. It recognizes those who have become before while embracing those that are yet to become, so that they, the readers, can engage in dialogue and create community with them, through our translations, even if they are already dead. Therefore, QT envisions community as being enacted concretely and intersubjectively maintained. Therefore, QT practice is an invitation to a mestizo like consciousness that asserts coexisting paradigms. It beckons us to inhabit the liminal spaces between words, and to erotic encounters with liaisons of meaning between the lines.

QT practice embraces entanglements, messiness, ambiguity, restlessness, angst, exuberance, performance and extravagance. It makes visible the invisible, (un)silences the silenced, and restores what has been erased. The discomfortable aspects of a text are made clear in the light of criticality, thereby achieving one of the goals of discomfortable writing, to unsettle the eye and open it to the unexpected. It applies techniques, using an anti-homophobic lens, to destabilize and denaturalize gender and sexual norms.

QT practice represents a heightened degree of reflexiveness and self-awareness, so it can affirm the political sovereignty of cultural diversity, gender, race, sex, class, ethnicity, disability and indigeneity. It reveals and accentuates productive cosmologies rendered invisible by the glossy sphere of capital’s indifference, which it forces upon subjectivities through normative and essentializing binaries. Rather than acquiesce or conform, it questions, it (de)normalizes, as it seeks to authenticate its radical exteriority to hegemonic thinking, decadent and moribund philosophy and global capitalist systems. QT enacts a resistance to the alienation and isolation that results from the epistemic rupture produced in such systems of knowledge, by emphasizing the movement of bodies in the process of becoming, rather than the illusion of being a static someone. QT practitioners recognize that in that static illusion of civilized, economically empowered, progress and development, lay the objects of patriarchal imperial desire, whose seduction is hegemonic, biopolitical, and necropolitical, because its power is nourished by the survival image of coloniality: the coloniality of power, of gender, of being, of sexuality, of ganglia, DNA, and even the coloniality of the essence of being. QT practice does not create a discourse of otherness that (re)inscribes colonial domination, but rather it affirms the existence and coevalness of separate histories. It enacts interactional spaces wherein the parameters of queer experience can be intensified, expanded and enabled.

QT practice embraces the embodiment of affectivity, it does not reject the rational, rather, it seeks to bust rationality’s complacency and challenge its historicity and its authority. Therefore, QT practice embraces a vital synesthesia that sees, hears, touches, smells, and feels; it honors intuition and reveals inner emotional, spiritual and intellectual truths. For just as Karl Marx recognized, in his theory of history, that each system carries with it the seeds of its own destruction, QT practitioners recognize the fecundity of those seeds so that, arising from the destruction, new ways of living, thinking and being in the world will sprout.

QT practice recognizes that waves of feminist, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersexed, asexual, and questioning subjects have chipped away at hegemonic power and carved a vital space, which QT practitioners seek to fill, inhabit, and share. Although it may sometimes seem that we are passive subjects in an objectified world, which establishes identity in relation to objects on the outside, QT’s dynamic practice does not enact paralysis, it does not reject the object, rather it rejects the reduction of being turned into an object. Therefore, QT practice renders a liberatory sense of identity, spaciality and temporality.

QT practice embraces intersectionality and recognizes that the entire spectrum of identities and subjectivities shine together, while capturing the density of living that peopled spaces present as a challenge to hegemonic organizational hierarchies. In QT’s ambiguity, we witness a not-definable, on the move, body-to-body collective activity that pulls the cosmos towards a renovation of life and an understanding of identity as being constituted within—not without. QT practice engages intercultural, transgendered, intersubjective living, collapsing the whole of history into the here and now of the time space continuum. By engaging in the how of modality rather than the why of causality, QT implicates its practitioners and adherents in the concrete (re)creation of community and habitat in the here and now of producing and performing life. It represents the modality of authentic being as the movement of a living and resplendent social organism. Therefore, QT practice embraces ultratranslation, discomfortable translation and language justice as it seeks to enact intersectional justice by revitalizing the imagination’s ability to render a transnational, trans-living, community.

QT practice interrogates what liberation truly means, it questions what our own prejudices are and how they will get in the way of our listening and understanding of the text. It interrogates how we can decolonize our thinking and our identity. It interrogates how we engage in liberatory collectivity, while gathering our changing practices into new traditions we carry into the future. And finally, QT practice must be experienced and experimented to be comprehended, it, therefore, should not, and cannot be codified, canonized, colonized or contained.

Sources:

Belizário, Fernanda. “For a Post-Colonial Queer Theory: Coloniality of Gender and Heteronormativity Occupying the Borders of Translation.” Gender, Human Rights and Activisms Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress in Cultural Studies (2016): 385. Estudos Culturais. Universidades Do Minho E De Aveiro, Sept. 2016. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Benjamin, Walter. “The Task of the Translator.” Selected Writings. Ed. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings. Cambridge, MA: Belknap, 1996. 253-63. Print.

Dinshaw, Carolyn. Getting Medieval: Sexualities and Communities, Pre- and Postmodern. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1999. Print.

Domínguez-Ruvalcaba, Héctor. Translating the Queer: Body Politics and Transnational Conversations. Zed Books, 2016.

Foucault, Michel. “Truth and Power.” The Foucault Reader. Ed. Paul Rabinow. New York: Pantheon, 1984. 51-75. Print.

Giustini, Deborah. “Gender and Queer Identities in Translation. From Sappho to Present Feminist and Lesbian Writers: Translating the past and Retranslating the Future.” Thesis. Norwich: University of East Anglia, 2015. Academia.edu, Spring 2015. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Hofer, Jen, and John Pluecker. A Manifesto for Discomfortable Wrtiting / Un manifiesto para la escritura discómoda. Los Angeles: Antena, 2013. Print.

Kusch, Rodolfo. Indigenous and Popular Thinking in América. Trans. Maria Lugones and Joshua M. Price. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. Print.

Love, Heather. Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History. Harvard University Press, 2009.

Lugones, Maria. “Translator’s Introduction.” Introduction. Indigenous and Popular Thinking in América. By Rodolfo Kusch. Trans. Maria Lugones and Joshua M. Price. Durham: Duke UP, 2010. lv-lxx. Print.

Marx, Karl. Preface. A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy. New York: International, 1972. 3-5. Print.

Mazzei, Cristiano A. “Queering Translation Studies.” Thesis. University of Massachusetts – Amherst, 2014. Master’s Thesis 1911. ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst, Feb. 2014. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Mbembé, Achille. “Necropolitics.” Public Culture 15.1 (2003): 11-40. Project MUSE [Johns Hopkins UP]. Web. 11 Dec. 2015.

Sappho. If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho. Trans. by Anne Carson. New York: Vintage. 2003. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Vallega, Alejandro A. “Américan Thinking.” Philosophy 607 Kusch. University of Oregon, Eugene. 6 Oct. 2016. Reading. Quotes and paraphrases drawn from class discussions held over an 8-week period beginning with the first class-meeting on the date specified in the citation.

Vallega, Alejandro A. Introduction. Latin American Philosophy from Identity to Radical Exteriority. Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP, 2014. 1-15. Print.

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