Bio: Kathryn Batchelor is Professor of Translation Studies at University College London (UCL). Her research interests encompass translation theory, literary translation, translation history, translation and philosophy, and translation in or about Africa. She is the author of Decolonizing Translation: Francophone African Novels in English Translation (St. Jerome, 2009) and Translation and Paratexts (Routledge, 2018). She has also co-edited four volumes of essays: Translating Thought/Traduire la pensée (special issue of Nottingham French Studies 49.2, 2010), Intimate Enemies: ‘Translation in Francophone Contexts (Liverpool University Press, 2013), Translating Frantz Fanon across Continents and Languages (Routledge, 2017), China-Africa Relations: Building Images through Cultural Cooperation. Media Representation and Communication (Routledge, 2017).
Abstract: In this paper, I examine the ways in which Africa is being ‘translated’ for China in the context of twenty-first-century Africa-China cooperation. What are the images of Africa that are being constructed in this era of increased investment and deepening diplomatic ties, both for Chinese audiences and for the wider global public? Who shapes these images, for whom, and with which motives? I will explore these questions with regard to three interlinking aspects of post-2000 Africa-China cooperation. Firstly, I will outline the ways in which a traditional, stereotyped image of ‘Africa’ is being constructed for Chinese publics through formal cultural exchange activities carried out under the aegis of the FOCAC (Forum on China-Africa Cooperation). Secondly, I will explore efforts by African groups to push back against these stereotypes, reflecting on the importance of nation (or continent) branding for international cooperation. Thirdly, I will present the results of a survey of African literature translated into Chinese between 2000 and 2015, interrogating questions of commissioning and dissemination in order to highlight connections between translation activities and soft power.