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Communicating Through Books, Spaces, and Personal Exchange: Women's Bookshops as Cultural Translators (1970-1990s)

Lisia Buergi & Kristina Schulz

Abstract The paper is interested in the intertwined relationship between the women’s liberation movement (WLM) in Switzerland and women’s bookshops offering feminist literature as well as room for discussions and exchange. We argue that women’s bookshops played a crucial role in various translation processes that were important in order to establish the WLM as a locally embedded and transregionally operative social force who was at the same time oriented towards a transnational feminist network. For this reason, we understand “translation” not only in its literal meaning but also in the sense of a broader process of cultural intermediation.
After a general overview on the WLM and women’s bookshops in Switzerland, the paper focuses on how the latter acted as cultural translators on two levels: Firstly, the bookshops made available a large offer of feminist texts to their clientele. Switzerland’s multilingualism with four official languages, led them to be culturally orientated towards different linguistic regions. Moreover, as women’s bookshops in Switzerland existed earlier than feminist publishing houses a lot of books came from abroad, revealing an impressive linguistic diversity for such a small country. Secondly, the bookshops managed to create an atmosphere of openness by making feminist texts and ideas available not only to activists but also to a broader public. Thanks to those strategies, over the years some of the women’s bookshops successfully adapted to the ongoing changes in the WLM and the general book market – with all its ambivalences.
   
Keywords Translation, Feminism, Texts, Bookshops
   
Citation Buergi, L., & Schulz, K. (2021). Communicating Through Books, Spaces, and Personal Exchange: Women's Bookshops as Cultural Translators (1970-1990s). In Translating feminism. Interdisciplinary approaches to texts, place and agency (pp. 91-116). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.
   
Type Book chapter (English)
Year 2021
Book title Translating feminism. Interdisciplinary approaches to texts, place and agency
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan (Cham)
Pages 91-116
Series title Palgrave Studies in Language, Gender and Sexuality