Whitewashing diverse voices: (De)constructing race and ethnicity in Spanish-language television dubbing

International Communication Association (ICA) Annual Conference, May 27-31, 2021 (Virtual).

Abstract: When television programs are translated for global audiences, languages are changed, but so too are constructions of diverse identities. Characters who are Black, Indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) undergo transformations in order to be intelligible outside of their original national contexts; such transformations might reinforce these characters’ difference or eliminate it, effectively whitewashing BIPOC voices. This article unpacks this phenomenon by investigating the translation of diverse characters through the lens of the many industrial norms and constraints that shape the dubbing industry. Using the international Fox hit Glee (2009-2015) as an entry point for exploring the role of dubbing in Latin America, this study complicates conventional notions about global media’s imperialist and hybridizing implications by tracing political economy and industrial practices onto the dubbing of Black, Latinx, and Asian television characters.

Laurena Bernabo 

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