Translation in cross-cultural research: an example from Bolivia

Publication date

01 Nov 2007

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Translation raises ethical and epistemological dilemmas inherent in cross-cultural research. The process of communicating research participants' words in a different language and context may impose another conceptual scheme on their thoughts. This may reinforce the hegemonic terms that Development Studies should seek to challenge. The article explores the idea that a reflexive approach to translation can not only help to overcome the difficulties involved in cross-cultural research, but also be a tool with which to deconstruct hegemonic theory. It addresses the epistemological and political problems in translation, techniques of translation, and the impact of translation on the author's own research, which is used to illustrate some of the ways in which translation can support deconstruction and highlight the importance of building a framework for talking with rather than for research participants.

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