Paul Maercker
ifk Translator in Residence

Duration of fellowship
01. March 2021 bis 30. April 2021

In Search of the Origins of Decolonial Thought: Translating Hélène Clastres’ La terre sans mal. Le prophétisme tupi-guarani


The first publication of The Land-without-Evil by Hélène Clastres dates back to 1975, following anthropological studies conducted with her husband Pierre Clastres among indigenous societies in Latin America. This analysis of utopian discourses, resistance against colonial oppression, and critique of domination will, in the process of the translation, be placed in the context of the poststructuralist splintering of Eurocentric perspectives in the 1970s. A central aspect of this investigation is the shamans’ prophetic speech as a performative production of an ever-emerging world that never materializes. The implications of this work for growing efforts to symmetrize the structures of meaning in the global North and South will render it fruitful for the future of cultural studies.

In contrast to her husband, Hélène Clastres has remained unstudied in the German-speaking world. This project delivers the first complete translation into German of a book that has long since been translated into English, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.


Paul Maercker studied French and Philosophy in Vienna and Paris, where he specialized in translation analysis, poststructuralism, and deconstruction. His additional areas of study included cultural studies, psychoanalysis, and anthropology. Since 2008 he has worked in Vienna as an editor and freelance translator. Maercker’s numerous translations of French authors, including Alain Badiou, Jean-Luc Nancy, Louis Althusser, and François Jullien, have been supported by translation grants from the City of Vienna and from the ALCA Nouvelle-Aquitaine (France).


Louis Althusser, Als Marxist in der Philosophie, Wien 2018; Alain Badiou, Kino. Gesammelte Schriften zum Film, Wien 2014; Franck Degoul, „Die Vergangenheit ist für alle da. Vom Umgang mit dem zombi im haitianischen Imaginären und seinen historischen Ursprüngen“, in: Gudrun Rath (Hg.), Zombies (= Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 1/2014), Bielefeld 2014, S. 35–47.

22 March 2021
18:15 - 20:00
  • Specials
Paul Maercker

IFK_LIVE: „Land ohne Übel“ – Übersetzung ohne Ende

Nach einem Werkstattbericht zur Übersetzung von Hélène Clastres’ „La terre sans mal. Le prophétisme tupi-guaraní“ (1975) diskutiert der Übersetzer Paul Maercker mit Andreas Gehrlach, Morten Paul und Karin Harrasser über das Übersetzen als Praxis der historischen Rekontextualisierung.