The production of research and scholarship on women, gender and feminisms in relation to translation has experienced an exponential growth in recent times, both within translation studies and feminist studies. This is evidenced by the increasing number of publications, academic dissertations, research projects, conferences and events that have addressed this topic from different angles around the world.

Many scholars in translation studies and practising translators alike have adopted feminist perspectives on their academic or professional work for decades. Generally speaking, assuming a feminist approach to translation research and practice has often implied identifying the different mechanisms of (intersectional) gender discrimination and disclosing the oppressive ideological values behind them, as a first step towards proposing alternatives for equality and social change. This approach has carried implications for all areas of translation, from literary translation to audiovisual translation, including also machine translation, the selection of texts for translation, or the working conditions affecting freelancers in a feminised profession, to name just a few.[1]

More recently, feminist scholars and activists (namely those working from a feminist transnational perspective) have become more interested in the study of translation as a mechanism for enabling feminist transnational alliances and productive dialogues among a diversity of women across multiple geopolitical and linguistic borders. For most feminists working from a transnational perspective, it is only through translation that new understandings of contextualised intersectional gender oppressions in different geopolitical spaces can be made possible. In other words, translation is crucial to facilitate cross-border alliances and solidarities that may challenge prevailing hegemonies, destabilise regimes of oppression operating in a world defined by globalisation and neoliberal values, and propose interventions for global social justice. The fruitful interdisciplinary encounters between translation and feminisms have produced a wealth of scholarly publications in the field of feminist translation studies as well as numerous interventions by practising (feminist) translators and/or feminist (translation) activists. Themes covered are manifold. Here follows a description of the most prolific areas of work in the linguistic, academic and geopolitical contexts known to us.

A relevant area of research has analysed the ways in which women have been metaphorically represented in the theoretical discourses of translation, revealing that these are often grounded in misogynistic conceptions of gender roles (Chamberlain, 1988). The binary opposition between the productive/active work, historically and stereotypically conceived as performed by men/authors, and the reproductive/passive work, performed by women/translators, has been one of the sexist tropes most commonly addressed, with translation being categorised as a second-class feminine activity. Other tropes include the originality and authenticity of the source text (men/authors) vs the subsidiary and unfaithful status of the translation (women/translators), the paternity of the source text/men which grants authority over the translation, or the penetration —and even rape— performed by the translator/male over the source text/female to make it their own. In response to this, alternative metaphors such as Pandora’s tongue (Littau, 2000), metramorphics (Flotow, 2009) and borderlands/la frontera (Godayol, 2013) have been put forward. Scholars have also reflected on these metaphors in relation to specific experiences of translation (Wilhelm, 2014; Segarra, 2019).

Given the traditional consideration of translation as a feminine activity, many women who were denied a voice as writers by the literary elites on account of their gender, entered the world of letters and gained authorship via translation (Krontiris, 1992). However, their contributions have been virtually erased from the historiography of translation. Seeking to challenge this invisibility, the study of women translators throughout history has also been a key point in the agenda (Delisle, 2002). Extensive research has revealed their motivations to translate, including their contribution to the dissemination of knowledge and ideas through the careful selection of texts for translation and the specific strategies designed to translate them. Their contribution to theoretical discourses on translation is recognised in their reflections about their translation practice in annotations, footnotes or prefaces. Critical studies in this area have also revealed the circumstances in which these women translated, often demonstrating the patterns of gender discrimination (alongside other intersectional categories) they experienced in different historical times and linguistic and cultural areas (Wolf, 2005; Castro, 2011; Tyulenev, 2011; Bacardí and Godayol, 2014; Kripper, 2015; Romero López, 2016; Silva-Reis and Carvalho Fonseca, 2018; Rajewska, 2020; Brown, 2022).

Another relevant avenue of research has focused on the local and global circuits of literary translation, tracking the status of women writers in the translation publishing industry. Scholars have long established that women writers and women philosophers are generally underrepresented in the translation market (Resnick and de Courtivron, 1984; Akbatur, 2011; Pettersen, 2017; Carson, 2019). Their invisibility becomes greater in periods of dictatorial regimes, when overt censorship is in operation to block any (subversive) narratives, most especially when these take part of collective struggles in the pursuit of liberty (Yu, 2015; Godayol, 2016; Godayol and Taronna, 2018; Zaragoza Ninet, Martínez Sierra, Cerezo Merchán and Richart Marset, 2018; Yañez, 2020; Spoturno, 2022). Despite these difficulties, feminist essays have indeed been translated and these translations have often been influential in the development of feminist ideas in the target societies (Godayol, 2020). More recently, some scholars have assumed a critical intersectional stand and paid attention to the additional geopolitical and linguistic barriers that women writers coming from non-hegemonic contexts experience as a result of their race, ethnicity, sexuality, class or geopolitical context (Sánchez, 2017; Manterola Agirrezabalaga, 2020; Castro, 2020; Spoturno, 2020; Abou Rached, 2021). Following this, a growing number of editorial and academic initiatives have actively engaged in undertaking and developing projects to disseminate the work of women writers via translation (Castro and Vassallo, 2020a and 2020b).

In recent years, a considerable amount of scholarly work has approached how feminist epistemologies and discourses travel (or not) across linguistic, institutional, cultural, historical, political contexts via translation, the challenges of translating feminist thought and the situated reception and the decisive effects these translations may produce in different target communities (Davis, 2007; Möser, 2013; Alvarez, Costa, Feliu, Hester, Klahn and Thayer, 2014; Min, 2017; Thayer, 2010; Díaz-Diocaretz and Segarra, 2014; Nagar, 2014; Sánchez, 2018). Within transnational and decolonial feminist studies especially, translation has gradually acquired a more central role in discussions about feminist politics. Scholars working from this perspective argue that the true potential of feminisms at a global level lies with collective action and scholarship produced in different geohistorical regions and inter/disciplinary cultures only possible through translation (Costa and Alvarez, 2014). They have also claimed the urgency of considering the impact translation theory and practice may have in challenging and disrupting different power relations that intersect with gender. The focus on intersectionality helped reveal the unidimensional and monolithic nature of Western feminism, paving the way for a critical examination of the power imbalances and asymmetries between women in the so-called global South and global North. Questions explored have investigated the geopolitical, cultural and linguistic realities that are believed to yield legitimate stories and truths worthy of translation, and the political consequences of those literary flows that, more often than not, perpetuate “West-to-the-Rest narratives” (Costa, 2006, p. 73), enforcing the hegemony of western values.

Research on the linguistic, discursive, textual and paratextual representation of gender identities in translation has also proven a strong area of inquiry. These studies have often compared source and target texts with a view to revealing the ideological role translators and translation play in perpetuating or challenging dominant hegemonic gender roles and (translation) norms, also considering the decisive impact this has at the reception end in the target system (Raguet, 2008; Castro, 2013). What many of these studies still tend to lack, however, is an intersectional approach; i.e., the consideration of gender alongside other categories such as race, sexuality, class or ethnicity (Castro and Ergun, 2018; Castro and Spoturno, 2020). This blind spot hinders a thorough understanding of how oppressive systems of domination such as racism, cis-heterosexism, classism or neoliberalism also affect the translation process and, consequently, the translated text, constraining the transformative potential that some textual feminist translation strategies may have in the target system. Within this area of inquiry, most of the initial publications about gender and language have favoured discussions about literary translation and the translation of feminist philosophical texts, be it to reflect upon the ethics of implementing feminist strategies or to unearth patriarchal strategies that had gone mostly unnoticed.

First, among those analysing the use of feminist translation strategies, the most oft-quoted example has undoubtedly been the practices and theories developed by a group of Canadian translators and writers in the 1980s in Quebec, who implemented innovative strategies to foreground the explicitly grammaticalised feminist component of the source texts in French by Quebecois authors, when translating them into a language with no grammatical gender such as English (Godard, 1990; Lotbinière-Harwood, 1991; Simon, 1996; Flotow, 1991, 1997, Bertacco, 2003; Brufau Alvira, 2010). Other paradigmatic initial examples by US-American translators and scholars include the strategies devised by Miriam Díaz-Diocaretz (1985) when translating into Spanish the lesbian poetry by Adrienne Rich, or the subversive strategies adopted by translators Suzanne Jill Levine (1984) and Carol Maier (1985) when translating the misogynistic writings of some Latin American male authors. The emphasis on these interventions must not conceal other feminist approaches to the practice of translation beyond the Anglo-American sphere, or other protofeminist rhetorical strategies used to subvert patriarchal norms much earlier in history (Robinson, 1995). Across time, women-centred translations of influential religious texts, such as the Bible (Shaw, 1993; Flotow, 2000) or the Quran (Hassen, 2016), have also received considerable attention.

Given the uniqueness of each translation project, feminist translation strategies that defy normative categories are context-dependent and should never be considered universally valid. Yet, some useful work has been carried out to describe feminist interventions employed to translate texts showing different gender ideological values, aimed at different audiences and in a variety of language combinations (Flotow, 1991, 2019; Massardier-Kenney, 1997; Kamal, 2016; Wallmach, 2006; Castro, 2010; Sofo, 2019), also from feminist translators who reflect about their interventions when mediating between languages and cultures (Grau-Perejoan and Collins-Klobah, 2020; Rosas, Bittencourt, Izidoro and Macedo, 2020; Grunenwald, 2021). More updated scholarly contributions can be expected as more translators openly self-claim the use of feminist textual and paratextual strategies when approaching the translation of different texts; one paradigmatic example being Michelle Geoffrion-Vinci’s English version of a novel by 19th century writer Rosalía de Castro, published in 2014 with the title On the Edge of the River Sar. A feminist translation.

Second, comparative analyses carried out in different academic and cultural environments have also unearthed systematic forms in which patriarchal ideologies pervade the translation process. Hegemonic methods of translating the feminist locus in the source text have also been identified, revealing how these patriarchal interventions or “phallotranslations” (Henitiuk, 1999, p. 469) distorted, amputated or even reverted the feminist agenda of the texts for the target audience. A case in point is the English translation of Simone de Beauvoir’s Le Deuxième Sexe (1949) published in 1952 (and the only available in this language until 2009), which cut a substantial part of the two original volumes (Simons, 1983). The paratextual dimension of these interventions has also received attention in recent times (Henry-Tierney, 2021).

The turn of the new millennium has brought a renewed interest in this type of linguistic and (para)textual including non-literary genres such as audiovisual translation (De Marco, 2012; Qanbar, 2020), technical and scientific translation (Bengoechea, 2014), legal translation (Brufau Alvira, 2008; Santaemilia, 2013; Favila Alcalá, 2020), the translation of women’s health (Bessaïh, 2021; Susam-Saraeva and Carvalho Fonseca, 2021), the translation of advertisements (Corrius, De Marco and Espasa, 2016); reflecting about technological issues and machine translation (Monti, 2020; Savoldi, Gaido, Bentivogli, Negri and Turchi, 2021); and also considering the translation of new genres such as birth narratives (Susam-Saraeva, 2020). Witness to this is the vast amount of publications reflecting upon the challenges of translating gender identities taking into account genre conventions, as well as analysing how women are often made textually invisible or confined to stereotypical representations. All in all, these studies have highlighted both the social and ethical import of translation as a professional activity as well as the ideological role of translators as situated political agents who do their job in an environment in which dominant ideologies are ruled by hegemonic (patriarchal, cis-heterosexist, racist, classist, colonial, neoliberal) values.

In the past few years, the interest in gender and translation has led to the emergence of a new area of research encompassing queer studies and translation studies. This interest is made evident by the inclusion of a considerable number of articles devoted to queer research in edited volumes of translation and feminism (Castro and Ergun, 2017; Flotow and Kamal, 2020), by the attention paid to feminism in edited collections about queer and/in translation (Baer and Kaindl, 2017; Epstein and Gillett, 2017; Baldo, Evans and Guo, 2021) and by works on transfeminist translation (Fontanella, 2019). However, it is not unusual to see that research falling within the realm of queer translation studies tends to avoid direct association with the feminist translation studies tradition (López, 2020; Baer, 2021). Some of the topics covered so far include the definition and convergence of the categories of queer and translation as mediators across hegemonic and non-hegemonic spaces (Spurlin, 2014), queer feminism and the translation of sexual health (Baldo, 2021), the contribution of sexuality studies and queer theory to the conceptualisation of translation (studies), and the role of queer translation and translators within activist movements (Robinson, 2019; Baer, 2021). The production, circulation and reception of queer texts in translation as well as the specific problems and methods used in translating trans and non-binary identities have also been addressed (Domínguez Ruvalcaba, 2016; Martínez Pleguezuelos, 2018; Villanueva-Jordán, 2019; López, 2020; Rose, 2021).

Other emerging areas of research and practice within feminist translation studies specifically address the study of interpreting from feminist perspectives (Toledano and del Pozo Triviño, 2015; Reimóndez, 2017; Marey-Castro and del Pozo Triviño, 2020), the working conditions of women translators in a feminised profession (Francí Ventosa, 2020; Santaemilia, 2020), or the pedagogies of feminist translation, both in the translation classroom (Kalivodová, 2017; De Marco and Toto, 2019; Villanueva Jordán and Calderón Díaz, 2019) and in disciplines such as global studies, international relations or feminist studies (Ergun and Castro, 2017).

This range of research topics, briefly reviewed in this entry, reveal the need for transdisciplinary dialogue and scholarship produced in non-hegemonic cultures and languages and central (academic) spaces. The challenge of knowledge flows in this research area must be revisited through a concerted effort of scholars working in the fields of Women, Gender, Feminist, Queer Studies and Translation Studies. Constructive dialogues and strategic alliances between scholars, practitioners and translator trainers situated in different regions of the world may lead to more socially relevant research initiatives and transformative practices.

To cite this notice

Castro, Olga; Sportuno, María Laura : “Translation ans feminisms”. Dictionnaire du genre en traduction / Dictionary of Gender in Translation / Diccionario del género en traducción. ISSN: 2967-3623. Published on 19 May 2022: /


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Pettersen, Tove (2017), “Texts Less Travelled: The Case of Women Philosophers”, in Isis Herrero López, Johanna Akujarvi, Cecilia Alvstad & Synnøve Lindtner (eds.), Gender and Translation: Understanding Agents in Transnational Reception, Montreal, Éditions québécoises de l’œuvre, p. 153-178.

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Reimóndez, María (2017), “Distance or engagement? Questioning mainstream discourses on interpreter professionalism from a feminist and postcolonial perspective”, in José Santaemilia (ed.), Traducir para la igualdad sexual/Translating for Sexual Equality, Granadam, Comares, p. 137-148.

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Sánchez, Lola (2018), “Difracciones de género y traducción: hacia otra cartografía de saberes situados”, Iberic@l, Revue d’études ibériques et ibéro-américaines, nº 13, p. 37-50.

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Savoldi, Beatrice, Marco Gaido, Luisa Bentivogli, Matteo Negri & Marco Turchi (2021), “Gender Bias in Machine Translation”, Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, nº 9, p. 845-874.

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Spoturno, María Laura (2020), “On Borderlands and Translation. A Study of the Spanish Translations of Gloria Anzaldúa’s seminal work”, in Luise von Flotow & Hala Kamal (eds.), Routledge Handbook of Gender, Feminism and Translation, New York, Routledge, p. 239-251.

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Yu, Zhongli (2015), Translating Feminism in China: Gender, Sexuality and Censorship, New York, Routledge.

Zaragoza Ninet, Gora, Juan José Martínez Sierra, Beatriz Cerezo Merchán & Mabel Richart Marset (eds.) (2018), Traducción, género y censura en la literatura y en los medios de comunicación, Granada, Comares.

[1] Due to space constraints, we will only mention here some of the edited books and special issues in journals relevant to this area of research, published in the last ten years in languages and geopolitical contexts known to us: Larkosh, 2011; Flotow, 2011; Santaemilia and Flotow, 2011; Slavova and Phoenix, 2011; Castro, 2013; Federici and Leonardi, 2013; Alvarez, Costa, Feliu, Hester, Klahn and Thayer, 2014; Postigo Pinazo and Martínez García, 2014; Signs, 2014, Malena, 2015; Studia Filologiczne, 2016; Camus Camus, Gómez Castro and Williams Camus, 2017; Castro and Ergun, 2017; Flotow and Farzaneh, 2017; Herrero López, Alvstad, Akujärvi and Lindtner, 2017; Keilhauer and Pagni, 2017; Santaemilia, 2017; Bracke, Morris and Ryder, 2018; Di Giovanni and Zanotti, 2018; Novikova, 2018; Araújo, Silva e Silva-Reis, 2019; Berger and Sofo, 2019; Camps, Carlucci, Cerrato, Luna, Fernández and Serra, 2020; Carvalho Fonseca, da Silva, Silva-Reis, 2020; Castro, Ergun, Flotow and Spoturno, 2020; Castro and Vassallo, 2020a; Martos Pérez, Sanfilippo and Soláns García, 2020; Flotow and Kamal, 2020; Bracke, Bullock, Morris and Schulz, 2021; Federici and Santaemilia, 2022. Monographs have not been included here, as they will be referenced below according to the specific themes covered.


Feminisms, Feminist Translation Studies, Intersectionality, translation, Transnational Feminisms