Conceptualising China through Translation (Manchester University Press, 2023) by Dr. James St Andre provides an innovative methodology for investigating how China has been conceptualised historically by tracing the development of four key cultural terms (filial piety, face, fengshui, and guanxi) between English and Chinese. It addresses how specific ideas about what constitutes the uniqueness of Chinese culture influence the ways users of these concepts think about China and themselves.
Adopting a combination of archival research and mining of electronic databases, it documents how the translation process has been bound up in the production of new meaning.
In uncovering how both sides of the translation process stand to be transformed by it, the study demonstrates the dialogic nature of translation and its potential contribution to cross-cultural understanding. It also aims to develop a foundation on which other area studies might build broader scholarship about global knowledge production and exchange.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.