Beyond self-translation: Amara Lakhous and translingual writing as case study

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Taking an author-oriented approach to the study of self-translation, this chapter seeks to explore the links between self-translation as rewriting and the negotiation of cultural identity. In particular, it investigates how self-translation practices in translingual writing dramatize not only the cohabitation of languages, but also explore the implications of the ‘self’ in translation, which, in turn, encompasses a much wider field of possibilities than moving from a source text to a target text. It is argued that translingual writing viewed as self-translation underlines the question of agency, how the subject can sustain complex, fluid, heterogeneous notions of identity by working with the intricacy of languages. In each case, the linguistic choice of translingual writers is understood to be political in valence and to represent an ideological statement about identity. An exemplary case is provided by the work of Amara Lakhous, who writes in both Arabic and Italian, and for whom writing across languages constitutes a liberating, empowering force potentiating encounter and transformation. Through a critical reading of Lakhous’s work, the chapter aims to show how translingual writing represents and reflects upon contemporary ‘sites of translation’ that are the by-product of international migratory flows, and, by doing so contests critical concepts such as ‘mother tongue’ and ‘original’ as well as challenging simplistic assumptions of citizenship, national and cultural identity.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSelf-Translation and Power:
Subtitle of host publicationNegotiating Identities in European Multilingual Contexts
EditorsOlga Castro, Sergi Mainer, Svetlana Page
Place of PublicationLondon UK
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages24
ISBN (Electronic)9781137507815
ISBN (Print)9781137507808
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NamePalgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan


  • self-translation
  • cultural identity
  • Intercultural communication

Cite this

Wilson, R. P. (2017). Beyond self-translation: Amara Lakhous and translingual writing as case study. In O. Castro, S. Mainer, & S. Page (Eds.), Self-Translation and Power: Negotiating Identities in European Multilingual Contexts (pp. 241-264). (Palgrave Studies in Translating and Interpreting). Palgrave Macmillan.