Europeans on Kashmir: Translation as an Enabling Intervention
Abstract: This paper proposes to study the enabling impact of the Western translation of Kashmiri folklore on the Kashmiri literature and culture. It will contest the popular and largely valid perception that the translation of Indian literary texts into English by the British colonizers was an Orientalist enterprise and had a definite agenda which was to give the Western readers a feel of the Indian mystique and to enable the colonizers to administer India. Further, the Western translators had a patronizing/colonizing attitude to the source language text that according to them was being ‘improved’ by translation. This paper will contend that Kashmiri literature (oral as well as written) has gained immensely by the interventions of the western translators of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Scholars like J. Hinton Knowles, Aurel Stein and George Grierson have played a pioneering and seminal role in documenting and perpetuating the folk literature of Kashmir. Their interest in this enterprise was purely academic and to date, the folktales translated by J. Hinton Knowles and Aurel Stein are considered to be standard and the starting point of any study of Kashmiri folklore.
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Published in Fall 2010-11