Sunday, November 4, 2007


observatorio: watch

Observatorio de racismo, observatorio de genero y justicia, observatorio de inmigracion ... there are tons of them here in Colombia, and all over Latin America and Spain. I've seen this translated into English as observatory, but it seems like a false cognate to me. We don't normally use that term for anything like that in English. We do however have several similar organizations that use the term watch, most notably the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) and Amazon Watch (both of which I interpret or translate for). I think the connotation in Spanish is a bit more academic, that is to say that a lot of the observatorios are associated with universities - but observatorios certainly do plenty of lobbying as well, based on the documentation work at the heart of these organizations, both North and South.

Thanks to Andrea for helping me think this through, and my compas on the SOAW interpretation working group. Ojo que some SOA activists have used observadores, but I've been lobbying for observatorio. Not only is it the closer equivalent, but observadores y observadoras de la escuela de las americas is a mouthful.