In recent years, there have been reports about increased
religious discrimination in schools. As a way of
acknowledging the importance of religion and faith
communities in the public sphere and to propose a solution to
the exclusion of religious citizens, the political philosopher
Ju¨rgen Habermas suggests an act of translation for which
both secular and religious citizens are mutually responsible.
What gets lost in Habermas’s translation, this paper argues, is
the condition that makes translation both necessary and
(im)possible. Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s notion of the
mysterious untranslatable and the task of the translator, the
paper approaches translation as an ethical process involving
risk, asymmetry and uncertainty. Not knowing where this risk
will lead, the paper takes the ethical ambivalence at play in
Jacques Derrida’s notion of the untranslatable and explores
this in relation to religious difference in education. It argues
that the untranslatable needs to be acknowledged in terms of a
respect for difference and a limit to narration, if students with
religious convictions are not to be further violated in schools.
Oxford: Blackwell Publishing , 2009. Vol. 43, no 1, 31-44 p.