Current Writing: Text and Reception in Southern Africa

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‘Inhabiting' the Translator's Habitus – Antjie Krog as Translator

F Vosloo


Drawing on the Bourdieusian concept of habitus and its applicability in the field of
translation, this article discusses Antjie Krog's profile in the practice of translation in
South Africa. Bourdieu's conceptualisation of the relationship between the initiating
activities of translators and the structures which constrain and enable them has proved
useful for addressing the reproductive or transformative potential of acts of translation
within particular socio-historical contexts. The impact of the translator (ie. Krog) and the
complex of networks in which she operates – the production and reproduction of textual
and discursive practices in (the) literary system(s) in particular – form the basis of this
study. Within the frameworks of Bourdieu's cultural field theory and polysystem theory
(considering the differences between, in my view, semi-compatible frameworks), my contention is that Krog's profile as translator is informed by her position as canonised
poet and renowned writer in South Africa and internationally. To what extent her habitus
as translator differs from or corresponds with her habitus as writer is therefore addressed,
in addition to the position her translations as cultural products in a cultural repertoire hold
within the Afrikaans and English literary systems (or fields) in South Africa respectively.

Current Writing Vol. 19 (2) 2007: pp. 72-93

AJOL African Journals Online