The Dark Side of Translation  book cover
1st Edition

The Dark Side of Translation

Edited By

Federico Italiano

ISBN 9780367337285
Published February 21, 2020 by Routledge
196 Pages

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Book Description

We tend to consider translation as something good, virtuous and bright, but it can also function as an instrument of concealment, silencing and misdirection—as something that darkens and obscures. Propaganda, misinformation, narratives of trauma and imagery of the enemy—to mention just a few of the negative phenomena that shape our lives—show patterns of communication in which translation either functions as a weapon or constitutes a space of conflict. But what does this dark side of translation look like? How does it work?

Ground-breaking in its theoretical conception and pioneering in its thematic approach, this book unites international scholars from a range of disciplines including philosophy, translation studies, literary theory, ecocriticism, game studies, history and political science. With examples that illustrate complex theoretical and philosophical issues, this book also has a major focus on the translational dimension of ecology and climate change.

Transdisciplinary and topical, this book is key reading for researchers, scholars and advanced students of translation studies, literature and related areas.


Chapter 8 of this book is freely available as a downloadable Open Access PDF under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license available at

Table of Contents



The dark side: an introduction

Federico Italiano

Part I: (Post-)colonial translations and hegemonic practices

1. Beyond a taste for the dark side: the apparatus of area and the modern regime of translation under Pax Americana

Jon Solomon

2. The Language of the hegemon: migration and the violence of translation

Monika Mokre

Part II: The Holocaust and the translator’s ambiguity

3. Primo Levi’s grey zone and the ambiguity of translation in Nazi concentration camps

Michaela Wolf

4. Translating the Uncanny, Uncanny Translation

Christoph Leitgeb

Part III: The translation of climate change discourses and the ecology of knowledge

5. Shady dealings: translation, climate and knowledge

Michael Cronin

6. Climate change and the dark side of translating science into popular culture

Alexa Weik von Mossner

7. Darkness, obscurity, opacity: ecology in translation

Daniel Graziadei

Part IV: Translation as zombification

8. Zombie history: the undead in translation

Gudrun Rath

9. ‘MmmRRRrr UrrRrRRrr!!’: translating political anxieties into zombie language in digital games

Eugen Pfister



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Federico Italiano is Senior Researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and Theatre History, part of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna; University Lecturer in Comparative Literature at LMU Munich and at the University of Innsbruck; and Visiting Professor of Translation Studies at the University of Graz. His recent publications include Translation and Geography (2016) and an anthology of young European poetry, Grand Tour (with Jan Wagner, 2019). An Italian poet and translator, Federico Italiano has published five poetry collections.


Exploring the dark side of translation turns out to be remarkably illuminating. The voyage into the negative confronts head-on a cluster of ideas that have remained vague and underdeveloped until now. Reflection on translation will be all the richer after this thoughtful and incisive volume. 

Sherry Simon, Concordia University, Canada


This provocative collection of essays challenges easy assumptions about translation. The multi-disciplinary authors investigate in different ways what lies below the surface of translations, showing how translators excavate and bring to light aspects of texts that are both verbal and non-verbal. This is an exciting book. 

Susan Bassnett, University of Warwick, UK