The Newsletter 69 Autumn 2014

Theorizing heritage in Asia as an 'encounter'

Adèle Esposito

Whilst preparing the program for a seminar on ‘heritage studies’ in the context of Asia, I (not without difficulties) was translating the position paper from English into French, when I realized just how much the research questions would have to be changed had I written the text in an Asian language. I asked an Indonesian friend to translate the text for me, and he stumbled upon various problems concerning the meanings of the words that I had used, concluding that it was “impossible to say the same things in Indonesian”. Our failure to accurately translate made me realize that these ‘problems’ were, in se, valuable research objects. This ‘accident’ opened up a research avenue on heritage and Asian languages that I am now starting to develop through two collective research projects. Also, it led me to consider the full and still undeveloped potential of ‘critical heritage studies’ of Asia and Europe.