Abstract

This essay tracks Karl Marx’s famous line, “They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented,” as it travels from a translated epigraph in Edward Said’s Orientalism to Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s “Can the Subaltern Speak?” What follows from this minor textual detail is a broader exploration of how “other” languages take place in postcolonial theory—not only Said and Spivak’s German, but Abdelfattah Kilito’s Italian and Frantz Fanon’s Arabic. What is the place of translation in self-representation? How do instances of textual citation complicate the self of self-representation? In the ricochet between citation and translation, language matters not necessarily as a sign of fluency, but as part of a pragmatics of critique, positionality, and ultimately solidarity. Each instance of language-use (German, Italian, Arabic) highlights the potentials of re-use, citation, and re-imagination for consolidating the bonds of anticolonial struggle and a vision of a postcolonial future. Shifting from translation to resonance and from language to voice, the essay ultimately engages the poetic potentials of translation as part of a pragmatics of anticolonial solidarity, integral to and beyond the self at the heart of self-representation.

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