"Communication as Translation: Notes Toward a New Conception of Communication” in Rethinking Media Research for Changing Societies. Cambridge University Press, 2020.

Book Chapter
Guobin Yang

This chapter argues that scholars need to transform their approaches to knowledge and knowledge production. Guobin Yang suggests that taking a view of communication as translation, as opposed to transmission, community, or ritual, makes central a recognition of difference. Drawing on Walter Benjamin (1968), he argues that, like translators, communication researchers can never overemphasize the ethos of openness and receptiveness to difference inherent to the work and the centrality to media scholarship of pedagogies on listening, learning, and attunement. The role of the communication scholar, he argues, is not just to translate the experiences of those we study, but also to learn from those experiences. He advocates the cultivation of methodological orientations that permit human subjects to teach about their own experiences, rather than explaining those experiences to them in academic jargon.