UBC Theses and Dissertations
The many translations of a nation : reading contemporary Canadian migrant autobiography Costantino, Manuela
This thesis examines the ways in which migrant autobiographers produce the experience of migration and the histories attached to it for a diversified Canadian audience. In this study, I explore the type of knowledge that migrant autobiographies create and suggest interpretive structures that demonstrate the social and political relevance of these personal accounts of Canadian history. I approach migrant autobiographies through theories of translation in order to question the concepts of "sources," "origins" and "authenticity" that these texts raise. Mobilizing the idea of translation for this study destabilizes the notion of "sources" or "origins" and complicates the "originality" or "authenticity" often attributed to them. Using this framework of translation invites a focus on the dynamic processes of transferring experience and memory from one context to another, manipulating language in certain ways to do so, and brings to the foreground the problems that these processes reveal. Chapter One examines the processes of linguistic translation that language migrants engage in and the strategies that they develop to cope with the identity translation that goes hand in hand with the manipulation of a foreign language. Chapter Two focuses on cultural translation and explores how the textual strategies used in migrant autobiography question and complicate common assumptions about the "originality" and legitimacy of cultural models. Chapter Three examines the strategies that the writers of family memoirs develop to translate their relatives' personal memories into a historical narrative that recreates the family history and the complex power relations involved in these processes of historical reconstruction. Chapter Four focuses on the concept of "home" and the functions that migrant writers attribute to their textual creations of homes and homelands. The chapter also translates these writers' textual representations of home into a form of critical discourse that examines the functions of patriotic discourses and the shaping of national identities.
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