One photo, two stories: Chinese photos in British museums

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    The aim of this study is to explore how translations function as an integral part of museum exhibitions. Specifically, this study argues that translators of museum texts and visitors who make use of them in museum exhibitions can actively engage in forming different interpretations of the exhibitions themselves. In both museum and translation studies, the producers and receivers of translations tend to be viewed as additions to the monolingual communication in the source language of the museum. Therefore, analyses of translations tend to search for potential errors by using the source text as the yardstick by which to measure how much the translations have deviated from the original and how much potential damage may have been caused to the interpretation as a result. This article draws on Clifford’s (1997) conception of museums as ‘contact zones’, through which objects stimulate ongoing dialogues rather than the site of their display being a final destination in itself. It further extends Clifford’s concept to include the multilingual museum exhibition. From this perspective, I explore how the different voices of object makers, source- and target-text writers and visitors take place in the museum and interact or exist in dialogue with each other.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-191
    Number of pages15
    JournalEast Asian Journal of Popular Culture
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2015


    • translation
    • visitors’ voices
    • contact zone
    • narrative
    • reframing


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