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Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type


Degree Program

Comparative Literature

Degree Type

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded



The focus of this thesis is on collaborative translation as a reflection of the contexts in which it takes place. I consider a wide range of contexts, including both historical and present day social change movements. Drawing on the principles that were outlined by scholars during the cultural turn in translation studies that took place during the 1980s and 90s, I examine cultural translation as something that can take place on many levels, from the translation of words and sentences to the translation of the values of a movement.

As an example of the holistic approaches that are part of cultural translation, I look in-depth at Our Bodies, Ourselves, a feminist book that has been written and translated collaboratively by women all over the world. I then expand my survey of collaborative approaches to include the translation of literary and religious texts, including the translation of Don Quixote into Kichwa, as part of an indigenous movement, as well as historical and present day team translations of Buddhist sutras in the U.S. and China, and numerous collaborative Bible translations spanning centuries and continents.

I also explore the relationship between amateur translators, collaborative approaches, and activism in social movements. Part of my aim is to bridge the gaps between translator training and translation theory, practice, and policy. In some cases, amateur translators are a manifestation of the values of a movement; in other cases they are a necessity due to limited financial resources, and activists take a variety of approaches to the problem of budgetary constraints. One approach is collaboration, which can make a translation project economically viable by dividing work amongst volunteers. Another solution is to form worker cooperatives. In addition, the use of technology can help to increase efficiency and save money.

Translators in social change movements frequently solve problems and carry out their values by taking holistic approaches. From integrating modern technology and time-tested historical practices to drawing on translation traditions from a variety of cultures, collaborative translation projects demonstrate a wide range of ways in which the values of social change movements can be reflected in the translation process.


First Advisor

Moira Inghilleri