SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Translating Cultures 1

Module Code:
FHEQ Level:
Taught in:
Term 2

This module focuses on understanding and applying the concepts of culture, otherness, and cultural translation. These will be approached from the perspectives of anthropology and translation studies. Translation activities require not only language ability; translators are also mediators between cultures. The wider concept of translation requires understanding culture and otherness; and almost any intercultural communication involves translation.

Visiting museums, students study how otherness is translated and represented there. This fieldwork is compulsory for the module.

By taking this module, students can locate themselves in the wider context as translators/interpreters. But the module will also teach highly transferrable skills with applications in a globalised, multicultural society far beyond the work of translators or interpreters.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. learn about translation theories and methods relating to translation of cultures
  2. confidently and effectively mediate across cultural differences in the real world
  3. understand otherness and communicate beyond borders.


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with a 2 hour lecture per week.

Scope and syllabus

  • W1: Introduction, Explanation of the course
  • W2: Anthropology and Translation
  • W3: Translation and Representation
  • W4: Translation and Myths
  • W5: Translation and Museum
  • W6: Translating Oral Tradition
  • W7: Thick Description and Thick Translation
  • W8: Translation and Power
  • W9: Translation and Ideology
  • W10: Student Presentations

The running order of the list above is subject to change.

Method of assessment

  • 1 x report (1300 words) to be submitted on day 1, week 7, term 1 (40%)
  • 1 x essay (2500 words) to be submitted on day 5, week 1, term 2 (60%)

Suggested reading

  • Katan, David. 2014. Translating Cultures. New York: Routledge
  • Sturge, Kate. 2007. Representating Others. New York: Routledge
  • Clifford, James. 1997. Routes. Cambridge: Harvard University
  • Geertz, Clifford. 1977. The Interpretation of Cultures. New York: Basic Books
  • Bassnett, Susan and Lefevre, Andre. 1997. Constructing Culture. Bristol: Multilingual Matters
  • Tymoczko, Maria. 1999. Translation in a Postcolonial Context. New York: Routledge
  • Beatriz Hale, Sandra. 2008. Community Interpreting. London: Palgrave School
  • Said, Edward. 1994. Culture and Imperialism. London: Vintage Dear Alice,


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules