Translating Gender: Latvian and Norwegian Case Studies in Feminist Perspective
This article is written by Jorunn Økland in Humanities and Social Sciences Latvia 25(2).
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This article demonstrates how key Anglophone feminist theoretical terms may be translated and affects perception and analysis of texts written in Norwegian and Latvian in particular. For this purpose a very established distinction within Anglophone, feminist theory is selected for special scrutiny, the distinction between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’. In this article the authors have traced both the history of the term ’gender’ especially as part of the ‘sex-gender’ distinction, i.e. ‘gender’ as a description of socio-cultural role and personal identity, and the translation of this distinction into Norwegian and Latvian. ‘Gender’ in English language is a neutral, descriptive term, while ‘gender’ in inadequate translation or in untranslated form has been imported into many Eastern European languages and given a different and intended negative meaning. The authors of the article note that literary and cultural theories formulated in one language make themselves dependent on the possibilities of that language. The concepts of feminism and gender are culturally differentiated and each culture and language perceives them in its own way, frequently creating the dissonance between power and culture, between theory, general normative acts and their perception in society. Therefore, the concepts of feminism and gender should be researched in the context of national cultural history and political agenda. This article may be of interest to researchers in the field of humanities and social sciences.