“How do we make art in an ethical way?” (Marlene NourbeSe Philip) is the leading question lying at the basis of this article, which inspired by the story of the unauthorized Italian translation of Zong! seeks to investigate on the ethics of translation and propose a new turn in translation studies, namely a black aesth-ethical one. The proposal here examined is indeed informed by both aesthetics, and ethics. It presents translation as a practice, that draws on recent debates on black aesthetics, with specific reference to the Afro-optimism (AO) of cultural theorist and poet Fred Moten (2013, 2018, 2019) and the Black Feminist Po-Ethics (BFP) of sociologist and artist Denise Ferreira da Silva (2016, 2021). The paper will be divided into three sections: I will first examine the main theories of ethics and aesthetics that have affected Western translation studies; I will then analyze how those theories have been both used and opposed in the postcolonial translation of literary texts (especially written by black authors); and I will finally introduce an aesth-ethical model as proposed by AO and BFP within black aesthetics, and foreground its implications in postcolonial translation. A conclusion will follow about the possible outcomes of the offered proposal, namely, an alternative way to know and improve the translation of postcolonial black literature, and a more critical and responsible awareness capable of preventing episodes analogous to the unauthorized mistranslation of Zong!.
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"Babel Blackness: The Aesth-ethical Turn in Post-colonial Translation,"
Living in Languages: Vol. 2, Article 5.
Available at: https://scholarsarchive.library.albany.edu/liljournal/vol2/iss1/5