claudia de lima costa
This chapter is a reprint of an article originally published in Latino Studies 4,
no. 1 (2006). It was initially written as a concept paper on feminism and trans-
lation to capture and systematize the conversations and inquiries that had for
several years informed the agenda of our Latina and Latin American(ist) fem-
inist research group on questions of translation and translocation. In meet-
ings marked by lively and provocative conversation, the group explored how
the notion of translation could be deployed to track the movements of femi-
nist concepts and political strategies across localities, especially between and
among U.S. Latina and Latin American feminisms. We decided to include this
concept paper in its original form to mark the theoretical ground from which
many of the discussions in the ensuing chapters of this anthology departed,
exploring the ways the idea of cultural translation plays out in a multiplicity of
transnational, national, regional, and local arenas of feminist struggles and
Since the original publication of this concept paper, and with the increasing
importance and visibility that the notion of cultural translation (and transla-
tion in general) acquired vis-à-vis the global shuttling of peoples, ideas, and
commodities, a plethora of journal articles, book chapters, and books have
appeared on the subject. My other contribution to this anthology (chapter 6)
incorporates more recent debates on translation, as do many of the chapters
that follow. While reading those, it is important not to forget what Spivak (2012,
242) teaches us that the very notion of translation, that is, of one word or
idea standing in for another, dislodges any possibility of literal translation.
In the sense that the concept is deployed throughout this volume, translation
can only be understood as a catachresis, as an always already misuse of words,
an impropriety and inadequacy that underpins all systems of representation.
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