Translating Practices: Situated Bodies between Cognition and Expression


  • Roberto Wu



Hermeneutics, Performance, Postcoloniality, Decoloniality


Practices correspond to a multitude of performing acts that articulate themselves in interpretation and entail circumstantial and cultural features. Considering that different sets of practices involve bodies with distinct backgrounds and diverse ways of expression, the assimilation or rejection of practices assumes to some extent translation, insofar as it requires intermediation between and among conflicting cultures. Particularly in situations marked by colonization, one is inclined to reproduce not only the hegemonic language but also its corresponding practices, often leading to a concealment of other possibilities of articulation. The capacity of translating practices involves, consequently, finding an adequate way of expression, one that understands hegemonic practices and their meanings, but which nevertheless also conveys a unique voice corresponding to one’s situation and marginal practices. It also requires attention to meanings that operate at a pre-predicative level—because practices are based in prejudices that cannot be completely manifested—and to their affective or emotional correlation. The chapter suggests that a complementary discussion of 4EA cognitive science and hermeneutics provides a conceptual base to approach translating practices, insofar as embodiment, affectivity, situatedness, language, and historicity play a key role in these theories. It concludes by exploring the potential of feminist, postcolonial, and decolonial studies, in delivering a political basis to understand how these processes of translation assume a situated body.


AHO, Kevin A. (2009): Heidegger’s Neglect of the Body. Albany: SUNY Press.

ARISTOTLE (2007): On Rhetoric: A Theory of Civic Discourse. Translated by George A. Kennedy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

AUSTIN, Gilbert (1806): Chironomia; or a Treatise on Rhetorical Delivery. London: T. Cadell and W. Davies.

BACHMANN-MEDICK, Doris (2006): “Meanings of Translation in Cultural Anthropology”. In: HERMANS, Theo [ed.]: Translating Others. New York: Routledge, pp. 33–42.

BHAMBRA, Gurminder K. (2014): “Postcolonial and Decolonial Dialogues”. In: Postcolonial Studies 17/2, pp. 115–21.

BULWER, John (1974): Chirologia: or the Natural Language of the Hand, and Chironomia: or the Art of Manual Rhetoric. Edited by James Cleary. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

BUTLER, Judith (1997): “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory”. In: CONBOY, Katie / MEDINA, Nadia / STANBURY, Sarah [eds.]: Writing on the Body: Female Embodiment and Feminist Theory. New York: Columbia University Press, pp. 401–17.

BUTLER, Judith / COSTERA MEIJER, Irene / PRINS, Baukje (1998): “How Bodies Come to Matter: An Interview with Judith Butler”. In: Signs 23/2, pp. 275–86.

BUTLER, Judith / ATHANASIOU, Athena (2013): Dispossession: The Performative in the Political. Conversations with Athena Athanasiou. Cambridge, UK: Polity.

CARRUTHERS, Mary (2010). Rhetoric Beyond Words: Delight and Persuasion in the Arts of the Middle Ages. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

CHEMERO, Anthony (2009): Radical Embodied Cognitive Science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press/Bradford.

CICERO (2001): On the Ideal Orator (De Oratore). Translated by James M. May and Jakob Wisse. New York: Oxford University Press.

COLOMBETTI, Giovanna (2014): The Feeling Body: Affective Science Meets the Enactive Mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

COLOMBETTI, Giovanna (2018): “Enacting Affectivity.” In: NEWEN, Albert / DE BRUIN, Leon / GALLAGHER, Shaun [eds.]: The Cambridge Handbook of 4E Cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 571–87.

DOCKHORN, Klaus (1980): “Hans-Georg Gadamer’s ‘Truth and method’”. In: Philosophy & Rhetoric 13/3, pp. 160–80.

GABBE, Myrna (2016): “Aristotle on the Metaphysics of Emotions”. In: Apeiron 49/1, pp. 33–56.

GADAMER, Hans-Georg (2006): Truth and Method. Translated and revised by Joel Weinsheimer and Donald G. Marshall. London: Continuum.

GALLAGHER, Shaun (2009): “Philosophical Antecedents of Situated Cognition”. In: ROBBINS, Philip / AYDEDE, Murat [eds.]: The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 35–51.

GIBSON, James J. (1979): The Ecological Approach to Visual Perception. Boston: Houghton-Mifflin.

GRIFFITHS, Paul / SCARANTINO, Andrea (2009): “Emotions in the Wild: The Situated Perspective on Emotion”. In: ROBBINS, Philip / AYDEDE, Murat [eds.]: The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, pp. 437–53.

HARAWAY, Donna (1988): “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”. In: Feminist Studies 14/3, pp. 575–99.

HEIDEGGER, Martin (1991): Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning). Translated by Parvis Emad and Kenneth Maly. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

HEIDEGGER, Martin (1995): The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Translated by William McNeill and Nicholas Walker. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

HEIDEGGER, Martin (2001): Being and Time. Translated by John Macquarrie and Edward Robinson. Oxford: Blackwell.

HEIDEGGER, Martin (2002): “Phenomenological Interpretations in Connection with Aristotle: An Indication of the Hermeneutical Situation”. In: Supplements: From the Earliest Essays to Being and Time and Beyond. Edited and translated by J. Van Burenv. Albany: SUNY Press, pp. 111–45.

HEIDEGGER, Martin (2009): Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy. Translated by Robert D. Metcalf and Mark B. Tanzer. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

HEIDEGGER, Martin (2013): The Event. Translated by Richard Rojcewicz. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

IHDE, Don (2001): Bodies in Technology. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

JACQUEMOND, Richard (1992): “Translation and Cultural Hegemony: The Case of French-Arabic Translation”. In: VENUTI, Lawrence [ed.]: Rethinking Translation. London: Routledge, pp. 139–58.

LILJA, Mona (2017): “Dangerous Bodies, Matter and Emotions: Public Assemblies and Embodied Resistance”. In: Journal of Political Power 10/3, pp. 342–52.

MAHMOOD, Saba (2001): “Feminist Theory, Embodiment, and the Docile Agent: Some Reflections on the Egyptian Islamic Revival”. In: Cultural Anthropology 16/2, pp. 202–23.

MCEWAN, Cheryl (2019): Postcolonialism, Decoloniality and Development. New York: Routledge.

MERLEAU-PONTY, Maurice (1968): The Visible and the Invisible. Translated by Alphonso Lingis. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

MIGNOLO, Walter / WALSH, Catherine E. (2018): On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis. Durham: Duke University Press.

MOSLUND, Sten Pultz (2015): Literature’s Sensuous Geographies: Postcolonial Matters of Place. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

ONSBERG, Merete (2008): “Delivery and Rhetoric”. In: DONSBACH, Wolfgang [ed.]: The International Encyclopedia of Communication. New Jersey: Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 1203–05.

POTT, Heleen J. (2009): “Emotions, Phantasia and Feeling in Aristotle’s Rhetoric”. In: CLOSE, Elizabeth (et al.) [eds.]: Greek Research in Australia: Proceedings of the Biennial International Conference of Greek Studies, Flinders University June 2007. Adelaide: Flinders University Department of Languages – Modern Greek, pp. 71–80.

QUINTILIAN (1979): The Institutio Oratoria of Quintilian, Vol. 4, Books X–XII. Transl. by H. E. Butler. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

ROBINSON, Douglas (2003): Performative Linguistics: Speaking and Translating as Doing Things With Words. London / New York: Routledge.

ROBINSON, Douglas (2013): Schleiermacher’s Icoses: Social Ecologies of the Different Methods of Translating. Bucharest: Zetabooks.

ROBINSON, Douglas (2014): Translation and Empire: Postcolonial Theories Explained. New York: Routledge.

ROBINSON, Douglas (2016): The Deep Ecology of Rhetoric in Mencius and Aristotle. Albany: SUNY Press.

RUIN, Hans (2019): Being with the Dead: Burial, Ancestral Politics, and the Roots of Historical Consciousness. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

SUTTON, Barbara (2007): “Poner el Cuerpo: Women’s Embodiment and Political Resistance in Argentina”. In: Latin American Politics and Society 49/3, pp. 129–62.