“Composing in Parallel: translating Quechua narratives”
Translation is impossible yet necessary, like approaching a limit one will never reach. The approach itself is what matters. This presentation explores my experience translating Quechua narratives recorded while doing ethnographic fieldwork in southern Peru. My translations attempt to honor the narrators’ cultural/aesthetic commitments; to comprehend and convey a way of life (of thought, of being-in-the-world) that they express. I discuss my translations as parallel renderings and transpositions of mediums, taking their impetus from speakers’ performances and working through various levels of partial connection and equivocation, ranging from vocabulary and grammatical constructions to overall narrative structure. I situate myself as listener with respect to native Quechua listeners; finally, I touch upon implicit political dimensions of my project.
Catherine J. Allen received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of Illinois in Urbana in 1978, and is now Professor Emerita of Anthropology at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Her publications include The Hold Life Has: Coca and Cultural Identity in an Andean Community, and Foxboy; Intimacy and Aesthetics in Quechua Stories. She also co-authored an ethnographic drama, Condor Qatay: Anthropology in Performance.