Cannibal Translation: Literary Reciprocity in Contemporary Latin America


ACLS Fellowship Program


Latin American and Iberian Studies


As translation studies moves away from a view of translation as unidirectional, where works are extracted from spaces lacking cultural capital to be consecrated in a global language, research into Latin American translation norms illuminates an alternative tradition centered around gestures of reciprocity and rooted in a region once seen as peripheral to theoretical interventions. “Cannibal Translation” studies Latin American writers from the 1960s to the present who replace straight translation with new procedures such as version, approximation, transcreation, and untranslation. These author-translators create two-way exchanges with their sources that reject assimilation or appropriation and demonstrate the stakes of South-South translations between Spanish and Portuguese. Saluting the provocative aesthetic practice of cannibalism, which Brazilian theorists coined to explore tactics of cultural reception, “Cannibal Translation” reactivates this playful concept within literary translation to show that reciprocal translation gifts between Latin American writers allow both parties to impact cultural spheres through ethical exchange.