The Task of the Translator in Times of Dismantling the Social. Zygmunt Bauman and Active Utopia
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Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2018-04-03
Polish Sociological Review 2018;201(1):61-77
The author presents the figure of Zygmunt Bauman as a public intellectual and a translator. Following Walter Benjamin and his essay “The Task of the Translator” and Jacques Derrida and his text “What Is a ’Relevant’ Translation,” the author concludes that a public intellectual as a translator is persistently confronted with the task of translating statements and postulates from the “language of politics” into “language of practice” and “individual experience,” from the “language of science” into the “language of collective action,” and from the “language of sociology” into the “language of the media.” The author claims that the key category in Bauman’s thinking was neither “liquidity” nor “modernity,” but “socialism as active utopia.” For Bauman, socialism is impossible without a socialist culture, but culture is a practice, i.e. it is an attempt to attune our collective goals aimed at improving the social world. This alignment comes without resorting to the idea of a collective conductor (a program), but by means of resorting to the idea of a translator.
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