Translation and the Professional Selves of Mercer Cook



Ni Loingsigh A (2018) Translation and the Professional Selves of Mercer Cook. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, 81 (3), pp. 459-474.

This article explores the ways in which African American Mercer Cook's translation practice reflects complex overlaps between his professional/personal selves and an ideological backdrop that encompasses black internationalism, U.S. race struggles and mid twentieth-century diplomatic relations with Africa. A first section explores how Cook, a university professor of French, uses what he terms the "close-to-home" value of translation in order to expose his African American students to what has been written about them in French. At the same time, translation is seen by him as essential to building a "shared elsewhere" where his students can reflect on their place within a black world that is neither nation-bound nor monolingual. A second section examines the way in which Cook's translation practice is inflected by his role as U.S. ambassador in francophone West Africa during the 1960s. In this context, the convergence of U.S. civil rights with official U.S. Cold War policy on post-colonial African states War is key to understanding Cook 'stance' as a translator and the way in which he seeks diplomatically to propel his translations of L.S Senghor's texts towards a racially riven US readership.

diplomatic translation; black internationalism; French Studies; Mercer Cook translator 'stance'

Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies: Volume 81, Issue 3

Publication date31/10/2018
Publication date online02/11/2018
Date accepted by journal30/06/2018

People (1)


Dr Aedin Ni Loingsigh

Dr Aedin Ni Loingsigh

Lectureship in French and Francophone, French