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 Translator's Note Minimize

When the National Park Service and the Society for American Archaeology offered the opportunity to translate this work into English a senior scholar in the field advised me not to do it. The problems, he said, are:

A.one invests huge amounts of time which inevitably distracts from the rhythm of one's own work, yet in the end the primary accomplishment is enhancing someone else's career, not one's own;

B. those familiar with the author's work or the subject matter will be critical of interpretation, tone, and detail, while those lacking such familiarity will critique the absence of supplementary materials which make the text more accessible; and

C. a previously-positive relationship with the author comes under strain when the sometimes-cursory revisions of translations in progress give way to "THAT is NOT what I meant at all!" on seeing the published version.
Experience may yet prove him right, but the utility of making available an English-language version of a text which has contributed to rethinking both the legal foundations and the professional practice of cultural resources management in Mexico leads me to assume the risk.

The text from which this manuscript was prepared is a slightly-edited version of the author's 1996 doctoral dissertation at the University of Georgia, which was modified to serve as a working document for Mexico's first certificate program in cultural resources management, held in Oaxaca in 1998. As a document written by the Mexico's leading expert in the field for practitioners trained primarily in archaeology it made assumptions about shared knowledge of history, concepts, and institutional arrangements not likely to form part of the background of most foreign readers. This required some occasional modifications of wording, organization, and detail in an effort to bring additional clarity to the text. Unfortunately a tight production schedule kept us from having enough feedback to resolve every doubt. Similarly, this has been an exciting but turbulent field in the past several years, but early in the process we had to decide not to try to incorporate contemporary issues and debate because it would have entailed a significant research effort not feasible in the circumstances.

Finally, and in part related to the previous commentary, this should be read not as a strict translation but as an interpretation. Despite the convention of the "translator's note", in the end the clarifications and corrections leave a few ghostly fingerprints of interpretation, of the presence, however muted, of the person responsible for the conversion from one language to another. I did not strive to match word for word, but idea for idea, argument for argument, and to provide the critical data to support them. This means, of course, that the accomplishments and contributions of this study should be seen as Nelly Robles Garcia's, while the errors of omission and commission are mine.

Jack Corbett
Oaxaca, Mexico
July, 2000

 

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