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Translation Theory and Translational Architectures: Reading between History, Architecture and Cultural Theory

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Chapter Summary

This paper creates a link between various disciplinary areas – history, cultural theory and architecture – using the concept of translation as a vehicle. The first sections consist of a detailed analysis of the concept of translation within various discourses. Here, I engage with the work of Walter Benjamin, who elaborates extensively on literary translation, and Jacques Derrida who takes on the Benjaminian notion of translation but moves on to unveil further possibilities. The work of the postcolonial translation but moves on to unveil further possibilities. The work of the postcolonial theorists Homi Bhabha and Tejaswini Niranjana is also discussed. Bhabha and Niranjana disclose the political content of translation and approach it as a highly subversive term. Finally, I elaborate on the way Latin American literary and cultural theorists have interpreted the notion of translation in their attempts to study the development of the continent’s cultures. In the final section of this essay, the notion of translation is employed in order to examine the contradictions that exist behind the Museo Cultural Quimbaya designed by the Colombian architect Rogelio Salmona. It is argued that the lack of a critical process of architectural translation resulted in the building’s not responding to the conflictive historical experiences of the people it was designed for. This paper reveals various issues that escape the limitations of traditional self-centred architectural theory which have never been sufficiently theorised in the past or which may have not been theorised at all.



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