The field of translation studies was largely formed on the basis of modern Western notions of monolingual nations with print-literate societies and monochrome cultures. A significant number of societies in Asia – and their translation traditions – have diverged markedly from this model. With their often multilingual populations, and maintaining a highly oral orientation in the transmission of cultural knowledge, many Asian societies have sustained alternative notions of what ‘text’, ‘original’ and ‘translation’ may mean and have often emphasized ‘performance’ and ‘change’ rather than simple ‘copying’ or ‘transference’.
The contributions in Translation in Asia present exciting new windows into South and Southeast Asian translation traditions and their vast array of shared, inter-connected and overlapping ideas about, and practices of translation, transmitted between these two regions over centuries of contact and exchange. Drawing on translation traditions rarely acknowledged within translation studies debates, including Tagalog, Tamil, Kannada, Malay, Hindi, Javanese, Telugu and Malayalam, the essays in this volume engage with myriad interactions of translation and religion, colonialism, and performance, and provide insight into alternative conceptualizations of translation across periods and locales. The understanding gained from these diverse perspectives will contribute to, complicate and expand the conversations unfolding in an emerging ‘international translation studies’.