Motoko Akashi completed her MA in Applied Translation Studies at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in 2013. Her dissertation uses visibility paradigm of Laurence Venuti to analyse the translation strategies of Haruki Murakami, perhaps the most celebrated writer and translator in contemporary Japan. Akashi is now PhD candidate at UEA under the supervision of Prof. Duncan Large and Dr Joanna Drugan.
Her research entitled “Contesting Invisibility: Japanese Celebrity Translators and the Impact of their Fame” challenges the established view of literary translators through analysis of the celebrity translator phenomenon. The research compares the sociological, cultural, and linguistic status of celebrity translators. Where much research laments translators’ apparent lack of agency, her thesis agues to the contrary, that literary translators worldwide can actively affect their own cultural status, depending on the cultural contexts they exist.
Turkey, China, Israel, and Japan, are all contexts in which prominent, or celebrity translators exist and flourish. However, translations outside Europe and North America are under-explored in current research. Her thesis examines the perceived value of translation and translators to a range of cultural contexts. It focuses on the Japanese case, and argues that celebrity translators’ status is linked to prestige, creative freedom and a dedicated readership. The research draws on the case study of Haruki Murakami, and investigates how his celebrity status influences his translation and translation practices.
Her research not only contributes to influence our understanding of the importance of translators’ input in making foreign literature accessible, but is also breaking new ground in demonstrating that translators themselves contribute to the creation and maintenance of their own social status.
Akashi is partially funded by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation (GBSF) and the British Association for Japanese Studies (BAJS), and has also been funded by the Japan Foundation.