The mechanism of translation in localizing globalism: The (re)interpretation of competence in Taiwanese education policy

Year: 2016

Author: Li, Yu-Chih

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

To better depict the convergence and divergence observed in the process of globalization, Boaventura de Sousa Santos (2006) distinguishes ‘localized globalism’ from ‘globalized localism’. He argues that since there is not a global culture that does not have any local bases, for some places, globalization means the globalizing process of their localisms. However, for other places, globalization implies the localization and contextualization of the global culture. Through an analysis of the trajectory of education reform in Taiwan, this paper attempts to explore how translation works in localizing global discourses. Aligned with Naoki Sakai’s (2010) skepticism toward the distinction between inter- and intra-lingual translation and the increasing transnationality of policy making in recent studies, this paper considers the translation of concepts, which are used in policy documents, as a means of delimitation as well as of connection among nations. Translation is not merely viewed as textual (re)interpretation here; rather, it is also seen as the representation and recontextualization of certain global policy elements. And the latter sense of translation can be observed through examining the former.With this conceptual framework, the introduction and recontexualization processes of ‘competencies’ in Taiwanese education reform from the 1990s till now are analyzed. Policy documents issued in Mandarin and/or in English are compared against their references, interpretation, and commentary. Finally, the last section argues the mechanism of translation, which accounts for the local sociocultural specificities as well as global agenda, plays a crucial role in the interaction between the local/national and the global in education policy making processes.