Translation and Reconciliation: (Post-)colonial practice in the translating, editing and publishing of Inuit literature
There are precious few Inuktitut literary voices available in translation, and what texts do exist tend to be presented in ways that are problematic, especially in the context of current debates around the appropriation of culture and the need for reconciliation. This paper will explore the issues through a discussion of early 20th-century authorities such as Knud Rasmussen, qallunaat authors such as Farley Mowatt who “speak for” Inuit, and the various translations of Mitiarjuk’s Sanaaq, Markoosie’s Harpoon of the Hunter, and Niviaq’s Homo Sapienne that are currently circulating worldwide. It will draw on recent theorizing about indirect or relay translation, especially in relation to languages of lesser diffusion, as well as themes such as agency, gatekeeping, and oral traditions. I argue that we need to consider all renditions of Inuit narrative and poetry, and indeed the very notion of translating Indigenous texts, from an approach that is far more rigorous, critically informed, and sensitive to the need for a decolonizing praxis.
Valerie Henitiuk is Provost and Professor of Comparative Literature at Concordia University of Edmonton. She served as Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation from 2007-13. Her books include the co-edited Spark of Light: Short Stories by Women Writers from Odisha (Athabasca University Press 2016); A Literature of Restitution: Critical Essays on W.G. Sebald (University of Manchester Press 2013); and Worlding Sei Shonagon: The Pillow Book in Translation (University of Ottawa Press 2012). She has contributed to such volumes as the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies and Routledge Handbook of Translation Studies (both forthcoming); A Companion to Translation Studies (2014), Creative Constraints (2012); Translating Women (2011); and Thinking through Translation with Metaphor (2010). Her work has also been published in such journals as Target, META, TTR,Translation Studies, Perspectives, and Comparative Literature Studies, and she served as Editor of the Routledge journal Translation Studies (2012-2017). Following a decade researching European translations of Classical Japanese women’s writing, Henitiuk is now working on the translation of Inuit literature, supported by a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.