The term ‘poststructuralism’ is used to designate a range of approaches which emerged in France and across Europe in the late 1960s and which reacted against the assumptions and goals of the structuralist method. It particularly gained momentum as a result of the interpretation and development of such continental theories by North American scholars.
Poststructuralism has often been linked to postmodernism, although the latter has been primarily associated with the literary and artistic spheres. Both have been connected with the so-called linguistic turn or the ‘crisis of representation’ and with the decline of metanarratives or Grand Récits, as well as, more generally, with postpositivist or postfoundationalist perspectives. Poststructuralism has also frequently woven associations with deconstruction. All these terms overlap and converge into what is perceived as a new epistemological paradigm which has influenced many disciplines.
Poststructuralism encompasses a wide range of intellectual proposals which emerged and have gathered momentum since the second half of the 20th century in such diverse fields as philosophy, linguistics, literary studies, social sciences, the arts, pedagogy, etc., and which challenged traditional approaches—generally based on binary oppositions—to language, society, culture, knowledge and thought. Poststructuralism is linked to authors including Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, Michel Foucault, and, quintessentially, the philosopher considered to be the father of deconstruction, Jacques Derrida. This movement takes as its starting point the instability of meaning, shows an extreme distrust of concepts such as Truth or Knowledge—traditionally understood to be sacrosanct, unquestionable, and universal values—, and is interested in unravelling the mechanisms and power relations that help to establish certain views and interpretations and make them be perceived as natural or given. Not surprisingly, it has had an important significance in the field of translation studies. In this entry, the main assumptions underlying poststructuralist and deconstructionist thought are summarised and their contribution in relation to previous approaches will be critically assessed. Subsequently, the role of poststructuralism and deconstruction in the development of different approaches within the field of translation studies will be explained. Its influence will be discovered, for instance, in the shift in TS from early scientific and prescriptivist approaches to descriptive approaches to translation (such as those initially advocated by the so-called Manipulation School and by descriptive translation studies or DTS) as well as in the emergence of critical insights to translation (including postcolonial critique, gender-based approaches to translation and research focused on issues of ideology, power, and authority). Finally, the relevance and potential of poststructuralist and deconstructionist approaches for translation research, translation practice and translator training in our globalised societies of the digital age will be assessed.
|María del Rosario Martín Ruano|
|Martín Ruano, María del Rosario. 2022. "Postestructuralism" @ ENTI (Encyclopedia of translation & interpreting). AIETI.|