Multiple Centres: Thinking About Translation Relations Between the First and Third Worlds


  • Harry Aveling, Monash and La Trobe Universities, Australia


In his landmark essay, “Translation and Cultural Hegemony,†Richard Jacquemond has asserted that “the global translation flux is predominantly North-North, while South-South translation is almost non-existent and North-South translation is unequal: cultural hegemony confirms, to a great extent, economic hegemony†(“Translation and Cultural Hegemony†139). Jacquemond’s conclusions in his essay have been simplified by Douglas Robinson in his Translation and Empire (31-32) as follows:

A dominated culture will invariably translate far more of the hegemonic culture than the latter will of the former.

When the hegemonic culture does translate works produced by the dominated culture, those works will be perceived and presented as difficult, mysterious, inscrutable, esoteric and in need of a small cadre of intellectuals to interpret them, while a dominated culture will translate a hegemonic culture’s works accessibly for the masses.

A hegemonic culture will only translate those works by authors in a dominated culture that fit the former’s preconceived notions of the latter.

Authors in a dominated culture who dream of reaching a large audience will tend to write for translation into a hegemonic language, and this will require some degree of compliance with stereotypes.

The paper will use the figures provided in the UNESCO Index Translationum for translation in and from South and Southeast Asia to test these various hypotheses.


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Author Biography

Harry Aveling, Monash and La Trobe Universities, Australia

Harry Aveling specialises in Indonesian and Malay Literature and Translation Studies. He holds the degrees of Doctor of Philosophy in Malay Studies (National University of Singapore) and Doctor of Creative Arts in Literary Translation (University of Technology, Sydney). Over the past four decades, he has taught at Monash University (Melbourne), Universiti Sains Malaysia (Penang), Murdoch University (Perth) and La Trobe University (Melbourne). Although he retired from full time teaching at the end of 2008, he is currently Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University, and in the Center of Southeast Asian Studies, Ohio University. In recent years he has also been Visiting Professor at the University of Indonesia and the University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.




How to Cite

Aveling, Monash and La Trobe Universities, Australia, H. (2010). Multiple Centres: Thinking About Translation Relations Between the First and Third Worlds. Asiatic: IIUM Journal of English Language and Literature, 4(1), 1–18. Retrieved from