Translating John V. Murra’s ‘The Economic Organization of the Inca State’ into Romanian as ‘Obra DE Amor’

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Abstract

This paper addresses one of the first translations of a US anthropological monograph into Romanian. Its author, John V. Murra (1916–2006), born into a Russian-Jewish family in Odessa, grew up in Romania, where he studied and became involved in the Communist movement before his departure for Chicago in 1934. His 1956 PhD thesis in anthropology at University of Chicago on the Inka state was a first step towards turning Murra into an influential figure in the field of Andean anthropology. His sister Ata Iosifescu lived in Romania and translated his PhD thesis into Romanian, published in 1987 as Civilizaţie inca: organizarea economică a statului incaş(Inka Civilization: the Economic Organization of the Inka State). Based on their correspondence kept at the National Anthropological Archives at the Smithsonian Institution (Washington, DC), I propose to reconstruct this translation’s story: the context, the constraints and the process of translation itself. I am also addressing the question of the book’s reception in Romania.

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