Genealogies of Knowledge

Genealogies of Knowledge I

Translating Political and Scientific Thought

across Time and Space

The University of Manchester
7-9 December 2017



Individual abstracts

Sandipan Baksi (Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, India)


Science writing in Hindi (a popular vernacular and one of the official languages in India) began in the latter half of the nineteenth century against the background of a growing anti-colonial freedom movement, yoked to the idea of cultural and economic nationalism. Influenced by contentious political developments since Hindi emerged as a vehicular language for scientific communication, Hindi science writing went on to experience considerable growth in the early twentieth century, and facilitate the production and circulation of knowledge on science and science related subjects. Notwithstanding these achievements, efforts to boost Hindi science writing were soon faced with a range of obstacles, in terms of the inadequacy of the Hindi terminology that could be used to define phenomena scientifically and to describe scientific principles. This lacuna was soon recognized and led to some interesting initiatives to construct glossaries of scientific terms in Hindi. This paper represents an attempt to describe some aspects of this development and traces the process leading to the compilation of the dictionary of scientific terms, including the main principles that shaped such a reference work.

The paper reports primarily on a survey of the content of Vigyan, one of India’s first popular science periodicals, bringing into sharper focus the debates around the foundational principles for creating a glossary of scientific terms. There were those who argued for a continued use of popular scientific terms, thus upholding the universal character of science, while others demanded a puritan approach, contending that classical sources of Sanskrit and Arabic should be utilized for such purposes. There were yet others who feared that the latter approach could invoke communal competition and therefore promoted a middle path of some sort. Debates also hovered around whether the nation should have one uniform glossary of scientific terms to facilitate scientific communication or it should allow different languages evolve along their own paths. The paper argues that these debates ultimately reflect some contentious questions in the history of science and, at the same time, the larger political conflict – coloured by linguistic nationalism framed alongside or in conjunction with a revivalist perspective.

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Samia Bazzi (Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon)


This paper examines the contribution of translation to the shaping of ISIS concepts and discourses circulated through its media machine, including Dabiq Magazine and Al-Furqan Foundation. It will explore a range of propaganda strategies used by ISIS to disseminate radical thought through professional digitalized media by drawing on a corpus of texts published in such outlets — including political speeches by ISIS leaders, as well as reports and narratives written by their followers, all of which are translated by ISIS’ “mujtahidun” [the industrious ones]. A comparative analysis of the original and translated texts reveals a number of translation strategies that ISIS deploys to construct radicalized knowledge, serve a violent agenda, and appeal to a large number of potential foreign fighters. It will be argued that non-translation is a particularly important strategy. ISIS-coined concepts such as Khilafa, Ummah, Hijra, Bay’ah, Tawagit, and other motifs saturated with an ancient Islamic register, tend to be left untranslated, as a way of reinforcing perceptions of Muslim unity, power, allegiance, and brotherhood. The analysis further reveals that particular ideological concepts are left untranslated when ISIS propagandists advocate fighting against the “unbelievers”, in an attempt to galvanize the group’s followers – whether by appealing to their religious fanaticism or promoting the uncritical reproduction of symbolic discourses grounded in Islamic history. These strategies highlight the importance of language use in the reproduction of radical systems of thought and the use of translation for recruiting purposes. This socio-political-linguistic study draws upon Critical Discourse Analysis – incorporating the work of Fairclough (1995), Gramsci (Forgacs 1988) and Foucault (1984) – to unravel the connections that exist between language use and the power of ISIS as a group (Fairclough 1995), and illustrate how specific translation techniques can be adopted to reinforce the Caliphate’s hegemony.


Fairclough, N. (1995) Critical Discourse Analysis, London: Longman.

Forgacs, D. (ed.) (1988) A Gramsci Reader: Selected Writings 1916-1935, London: Lawrence and Wishart.

Foucault, M. (1984) ‘The Order of Discourse’, in M. Shapiro (ed.) Language and Politics, Oxford: Blackwell, 108-138.

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Seyhan Bozkurt (Okan University, Turkey)


Elif Daldeniz argues that Turkey offers valuable ground for analyzing the importation of concepts, since in the country’s transformation from an empire to a nation state various concepts were initially imported from various foreign languages into Turkish, only then to embark upon distinct journeys of their own in their new culture. As a new perspective on this process, she proposes the method of Begriffsgeschichte, or ‘conceptual history’, drawing on the work of Reinhart Koselleck, a leading scholar of conceptual history who defines concepts as “words with a special historical meaning” (Bödeker 2008: 53). A word turns into a concept when the meaning of the context in which it is used becomes an integral part of the word itself. Scholars working in the field of conceptual history do not associate a concept with a single word but instead draw upon the idea of a semantic field consisting of synonyms, antonyms, and associated terms (Hampsher-Monk et al 2008: 2). Using this method, I will demonstrate that the concept of realism was transferred as a literary school into Turkish literature during the westernizing phase of the Tanzimat Period (1839-1908), and was then transformed into a concept during the Republican Period via its association with central components of the official ideology. Positivism, a major component of the (later) official Ottoman ideology, was an effective tool in the transfer and contextualization of realism during the Tanzimat Period, when it re-contextualized realism by associating it with concepts that were central to the ruling ideology of the era. This ideology was enshrined in the six principles of Atatürk’s People’s Republican Party: populism, nationalism, statism, republicanism, ‘revolutionism’ and secularism. This presentation argues that the strongest evidence of the link between the official ideology and the (re-)contextualization of realism in the Turkish context is to be found in the literary journal Varlik, one of the major journals of the early Republican Period. In its choice of works to be translated and its description and analysis of those works, Varlik continually and deliberately merged the concept of realism with the six principles of the official state ideology. This presentation will further argue that realism was also expected to form a link between the reading public and the official ideology by ensuring that the new ‘realist’ literature, both translated and indigenous, offered people ‘potential models for life’ in line with the official state ideology.


Bödeker, H. E. (2008) ‘Concept-Meaning- Discourse. Begriffsgesichte reconsidered’, in I. Hampsher-Monk, K. Tilmans & F. van Vree (Eds.), History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives, Amsterdam: University Press, 51- 64.

Daldeniz, E. (2010) ‘Kavramlarin Yolculugu: Kültür Kavraminin Türkçedeki Serüvenini Çeviribilimsel Bakisla Sorgulamak’, Alman Dili ve Edebiyati Dergisi, 23(1): 83-111.

Hamspsher-Monk, I., K. Tilmans  &  F. van Vree (2008) ‘A Comparative Perspective on Conceptual History: An introduction’, in I. Hamspsher-Monk, K. Tilmans  &  F. van Vree (Eds.), History of Concepts: Comparative Perspectives, Amsterdam: University Press, 1-9.

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Julia C. Bullock (Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, USA)


Simone de Beauvoir’s famous insight in The Second Sex that one is not born, but becomes, a woman is often credited for elucidating crucial distinctions between biological sex and socially constructed gender – the conceptual foundation for much of the feminist theoretical work that followed. In Japan, appreciation of this important distinction contributed to a rise in ‘second-wave’ feminist discourse in the 1970s that became known as ūman ribu [“women’s lib”], a movement that was instrumental in challenging many of the gender stereotypes that were responsible for the social oppression of postwar Japanese women. But in spite of the revolutionary impact of this new appreciation of gender within feminist discourse, Beauvoir’s contribution to this philosophical revolution remained poorly understood, primarily because the first Japanese translation of The Second Sex by Ikushima Ryōichi (as Daini no sei, 1953) gave readers the mistaken impression that Beauvoir denigrated both female corporeality and motherhood. Japanese readers thus came away from the Ikushima translation with the understanding that Beauvoir argued women’s only path to transcendence was to refuse motherhood entirely, a notion that was culturally abhorrent in the early postwar context in which it first appeared. This paper will argue that much of the confusion surrounding Ikushima’s rendering of Beauvoir was produced by his handling of crucial terms that derived from her existentialist philosophical framework, and specifically the notion of woman’s ‘situation’. While Beauvoir understood this to be culturally and historically determined, Ikushima’s mistranslations gave the impression that it was fixed and immutable, directly contradicting the philosopher’s original intention and rendering many of her arguments nonsensical. These mistranslations therefore had important consequences for the development of feminist theory in Japan in the first few postwar decades, and the confusion they spawned was not dispelled until the release of a new version of Daini no sei in 1997 by a team of activist feminist translators determined to restore Beauvoir to her proper place in the history of feminist theory.


Inoue Takako (1998) ‘Gendai furansu no josei shiso—Shimonu do Bovowaru kara Kurisutinu Derufi e’, Furansu tetsugaku shiso kenkyu 3: 47-61.

Inoue Takako and Kimura Nobuko (1997) ‘Yakusha atogaki’, Ketteiban Dai ni no sei I: Jijitsu to shinwa, Tokyo: Shinchosha.

Kanai Yoshiko (2002) ‘Simone de Beauvoir: Daini no sei’, in Ehara Yumiko and Kanai Yoshiko (eds) Feminizumu no meicho 50, Tokyo: Heibonsha, 60-69.

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Jan Buts (University of Manchester, UK)


Several decades ago, Raymond Williams asserted in his nodal study of culture and society that ‘[no] questions are more difficult than those of democracy, in any of its central senses’ (1983: 76). Since then, these questions have become more complex and gained significant visibility in the context of contemporary radical politics. While references and appeals to ‘democracy’ abound in today’s institutional and philosophical discourses, they are particularly prominent in online alternative media on the left of the political spectrum. In McLennan’s view, the ubiquity of the term might result ‘from the appeal of the combinations it forms with various – very different – qualifying terms’ (2005: 76). This paper seeks to explore such qualifying terms, and examine how and why they are discursively mobilized in online activist publications.

This presentation addresses these questions by drawing on the Genealogies of Knowledge Corpus, which aims to chart changes in the meaning of key concepts pertaining to the body politic and scientific expertise as they have travelled across centuries, languages and cultures through translation. Specifically, my study focuses on a specialized subcorpus of Internet discourse, consisting of articles published in various politically oriented media outlets, and reports on the results of a collocational analysis of ‘democracy’ based on Sinclair’s quadruple framework of collocation, colligation, semantic preference and semantic prosody (Sinclair and Carter 2004). By extracting the various faces of ‘democracy’ from their hyperlinked environment, and subjecting them to a data-driven comparative analysis, the paper clarifies the ongoing struggle for a single vocabulary item that governs a gargantuan conceptual space.


Genealogies of Knowledge: The Evolution and Contestation of Concepts across Time and Space: http://genealogiesofknowledge.net/genealogies-knowledge-corpus/

McLennan, G. (2005) ‘Democracy’, in T. Bennett, L. Grossberg and M. Morris (eds) New Keywords: A revised vocabulary of culture and society, Malden, Oxford & Carlton: Blackwell Publishing, 72-76.

Sinclair, J. & R. Carter (eds) (2004) Trust the Text: Language, corpus and discourse, London: Routledge.

Williams, R. (1983) Keywords: A vocabulary of culture and society, London: Harper Collins Publishers, 2nd edition.

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María Calzada-Pérez (Universitat Jaume I, Castellón de la Plana, Spain)


According to Foucault (2003), the term “genealogy” refers to a deconstructive technique of truth in which the researcher explores the spatial and chronological proliferation of dominant concepts, identifying differences and similarities along the axes of both time and space to unveil complex, heterogeneous realities underneath apparently homogenous, uniform constructs imposed during the course of power struggles. To date, Corpus-based Translation Studies has drawn on powerful tools to identify and quantitatively measure differences, but research focusing on similarities remains scarce and diachronic studies lag behind synchronic investigations.

Focusing on issues of methodology and genealogy, this presentation will draw heavily on Modern Diachronic Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies to examine differences and similarities between original and translated text throughout “comparatively brief periods of modern times” (Partington et al. 2013: 265). Its starting assumption, in agreement with Taylor (2013: 83–84), is that by identifying only differences between source and target texts “we effectively create a ‘blind spot’” that can only be rectified by supplementing this focus with an investigation of similarities. The current study therefore sets out to investigate both types of relation by combining traditional corpus analysis tools (such as word lists, keyword lists and concordances) with innovative CL tools (e.g., detailed consistency relations, key keywords and associates, lockwords, c-collocates and s-collocates) (Partington et al. 2013). The data consists of the European Comparable and Parallel Corpus Archive of Parliamentary Speeches (ECPC). Compiled at the Universitat Jaume I (Spain), this archive (of over 100 million tokens) covers the period 2004-2011 and consists of original and translated English and/or Spanish proceedings of the European Parliament, the Spanish Congreso de los Diputados and the British House of Commons. ECPC incorporates contextual (sociolinguistic and sociocultural) and metalinguistic information, the latter relating to the speakers’ status, gender, constituency, party affiliation, birth-date, birth place, post, and institutional body and sub-body of representation, all encoded using XML annotation. The ECPC Archive has a modular structure that makes comparison along the spatial and temporal axes possible.


Foucault, M. (2003) The Essential Foucault: Selections from essential works of Foucault, 1954-1984, New York: The New Press.

Partington, A., A. Duguid & C. Taylor (eds) (2013) Patterns and Meanings in Discourse: Theory and practice in Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies (CADS), Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Taylor, C. (2013) ‘Searching for Similarity Using Corpus-Assisted Discourse Studies’, Corpora 8(1): 81–113.

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David Charlston (University of Manchester, UK)


Following World War II, German philosophy played an important role in the transformation of Western Liberal Democracy. Populist narratives of an anti-communist ‘Free World’ (Bird 2006; Davies 2017; Mure 1949) initiated a selective repositioning of philosophers, with targeted retranslations of key texts into English. The paper argues that understanding the positioning of translators makes a significant contribution to political knowledge and enhances active engagement with texts such as Hegel’s Phenomenology. The argument is presented with reference to A. V. Miller’s retranslation of Hegel’s famous ‘master/slave’ narrative, showing how the translated text was re-framed against the changing socio-political context of the cold-war. This analysis is supported by socio-narrative theory (Baker 2006) and Bourdieusian sociology (Hanna 2016).

Hegel uses the master/slave narrative – a sophisticated derivative of Defoe’s story of Robinson Crusoe and Friday – to explain the phenomenon of human self-consciousness: two independent minds gradually become ‘self-conscious’ following a face-to-face conflict. Hegel’s German terms ‘Herr’ and ‘Knecht’ suggest a feudal setting in which ‘lord’ and ‘bondsman’ renegotiate their asymmetric relationship in terms of limited but mutual respect. However, in the cold-war context of Miller’s retranslation, more topical narrative layers had become superimposed on this phenomenological allegory. Hegel’s ‘master/slave’ dialectic became increasingly politicized, primarily by Marx and Kojève, so that, for some, the two characters had come to symbolize the conflict between the dominant bourgeoisie and the enslaved working classes. Miller’s retranslation resists this interpretation, rehabilitating Hegel as a philosopher of the hierarchical but cautiously liberal ‘Organic State’ (Mure 1949), and thereby contesting alleged links with communism but, at the same time, questioning the development of a facile neoliberalism based on a rigid conception of economic freedom (Davies 2017).

The presentation will demonstrate how Miller’s retranslation contributes to the re-conceptualization of political freedom by re-framing the master/slave story. Details in the text and paratexts will be explained with reference to the wider context, especially where the paratexts explicitly frame personal and theoretical narratives relevant to the development of liberal, socialist and alternative political theory (Bird 2006).


Baker, M. (2006) Translation and Conflict, London & New York: Routledge.

Bird, C. (2006) An Introduction to Political Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Davies, W. (2017) The Limits of Neoliberalism, London: SAGE.

Hanna, S. (2016) Bourdieu in Translation Studies: The socio-cultural dynamics of Shakespeare translation in Egypt, New York & London: Routledge.

Mure, G. R. G. (1949) ‘The Organic State’, Philosophy 24(90): 205-218.

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Glen Cooper (Claremont McKenna College/Pitzer College, USA)


Drawn from a book length project of this title, which investigates medical dimensions of the political body metaphor as it evolved through ancient Greek, Islamic, Byzantine, and medieval European cultures, the present paper surveys the metaphor in six contexts, considered pairwise, from Plato’s Republic through the writings of Nicole Oresme. In considering how the metaphor evolved, G. Lakoff’s notion of “conceptual metaphor” is used, whereby a broad metaphorical association such as “the state is a body” exists deeply in the language or conceptual background of a culture, and is manifested via specific statements, such as “king, Parliament, and magistrates are organs of the state”, or “rebels are diseases that must be eliminated”. In the book, it is shown how the body politic metaphor, first articulated in Plato’s Republic, existed at a superficial level until the Middle Ages, when thinkers developed the medical dimensions of the metaphor in more detail.

The six contexts to be compared are: Plato’s Republic with al-Farabi’s The Virtuous City, which is an adaptation of that work within an Arabic context. The Republic advances the basic three-fold body politic metaphor. However, al-Farabi employs more concrete and explicit medical imagery to explain how the king and vizier should cooperate as the brain and heart do for the welfare of the body.

John of Salisbury’s Policraticus, which articulated the metaphor for medieval Europe, is compared with Nicole Oresme’s writings about money. John accounts for many more body-to-state correlations than Plato did, which invited more applications of his model to political philosophy, such as providing justification for regicide, by amputating a bad king as the diseased head of the state. Oresme, however, goes into more detail and suggests that just as a body requires a healthy circulation of the blood, so the state requires an unimpeded circulation of currency—an image that originated with him.

Lastly, the Apostle Paul’s adaptation of the metaphor, which called Christians “members of the body of Christ”, led to the persecution of heretics, who must be destroyed to prevent “infection” of the other members. However, Byzantine princess Anna Comnena made more refined use of the metaphor to organize her Alexiad: the Christian-Roman Empire was the body, beset with threats to its health from within and without, and her father, Emperor Alexius I, was its physician.

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Christina Delistathi (Birkbeck, University of London / City, University of London, UK)


This paper investigates the collaborative working practices of agents involved in the Greek translation of the Selected Works of Marx and Engels (1951) – published by the Communist Party of Greece and translated by a group of party members employed as ‘professionals’. While collaborative translation goes back a long way and has been documented in different contexts (e.g. religious, feminist and non-professional translation), the history of such practices remains a neglected area of inquiry in Translation Studies. Indeed, translation in the ‘West’ has been traditionally approached as a solitary undertaking (Bistué 2013) – with the exception of studies on Bible translation and other translations carried out in Medieval and Renaissance Europe, and more recent research on the work of networked amateur translators in the digital culture.

This paper’s basic premise is that working practices mould translations, and that translators’ contribution to intellectual history cannot be fully appreciated unless we understand how they worked. In this study, the agents involved in the translation of Selected Works of Marx and Engels were political refugees who had fled Greece in the aftermath of the party’s defeat in the Civil War (1946-1949) and worked in its Bucharest Translation Department. Based on unpublished archival material and historical research, the paper examines the working practices of translators in terms of perceptions of what it meant to be a ‘professional’. Professionalization fashioned the party as the expert who had the right to translate and prescribe the ‘correct’ way to translate Marxist texts. Studying these collaborative working practices reveals the power dynamics between different agents; shows which aspects of translation were considered important; and informs us about translation strategies and agendas shaping texts. In the translation project that this presentation reports on, translating was, as St. André (2010) notes in relation to the Chinese context, “a multi-layered and multi-staged process”. Collaboration between ‘professionals’ resulted in very literal Greek language versions, that were then made more idiomatic, revised, typed and proofread by other agents before the translation was approved for publication by the editor. Examining the translation practices in this case study can yield a better understanding of the production of translated texts and devise new approaches to theorize collaborative translation.


Bistué, B. (2013) Collaborative Translation and Multi-Version Texts in Early Modern Europe, London and New York: Routledge.

St. André, J. (2010) ‘Lessons from Chinese History: Translation as a collaborative and multi-staged process’, TTR 23(1): 71-94.

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Tansel Demirel (Bogaziçi University, Turkey)


The scholarly literature tends to frame the work of Ziya Gökalp (1876-1924), who is considered to be the founder of Turkish sociology, as the product of a “simple” transfer or translation of “Western sociology”. This body of literature does not engage critically with the significance of the practices of transfer and translation in the context of Gökalp’s work and the knowledge production processes that underpin it. A large number of scholars, for example, have drawn attention to the limited originality of Gökalp’s work – mostly on account of his “borrowing” of many conceptual tools from French sociology. However, so far there has been no in-depth study on the relationship between Gökalp’s contribution to the production of sociological knowledge and specialized sociological terminology in Turkish, and the ideas he put forward on transfer, translation and originality. This paper attempts to shed some light upon this issue by examining Gökalp’s ideas on terminological production within his broader theorization of cultural change. It will first examine the linguistic changes that Turkish went through in the early twentieth century. Among such changes, it will focus on linguistic borrowings, that Gökalp viewed as quintessential examples of societal contacts (as well as true markers of cultural boundaries). I will then examine his approach to the transfer of scientific and, specifically, sociological knowledge into a culturally and linguistically different and rapidly changing society. I will try to elucidate how he conceptualized the production of sociological knowledge and terminology in Turkish, and related it to the issues of originality and translation (and thereby to the problem of cultural boundaries). Drawing parallels between the borrowing of “foreign” terms and the borrowing of institutions from other nations, Gökalp views the production of scientific terms in Turkish (basically through translation) as a prime example of original creation and an integral part of his way of doing sociology. This presentation will show that Gökalp’s conception of translation (tercüme), transfer (nakil) and original (orijinal) is quite different from their dominant counterparts in the modern world; it will also demonstrate how, by using these terms, he underlines the assimilative capacity of the receiving language and culture.

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Ahmed Elimam (University of Leicester, UK)


The knowledge constructed by the media whilst reporting on events can create, feed into and/or circulate certain narratives about given peoples, and therefore direct the way in which receivers think about them. Translation plays a crucial role in this context since media-created knowledge or narratives cannot travel across linguistic and cultural boundaries without the help of translators. With respect to reporting on a “violent” event, the media more often than not present the Qur’an and Islam as primary motivations for some of the atrocities that have recently been seen around the world. The result of this process is that a large body of “biased” knowledge about the Qur’an and, in turn, about Islam and Muslims, is circulated publicly and arguably accorded a great deal of credibility (Goffman 1981). Looking specifically at how the media reports on news of violent events in which Islam is evoked, this presentation aims to identify how specific verses from the Qur’an are quoted in contexts of violence, thereby providing an “explanation” for individual acts by relating them directly to the Muslims’ holy book.

To realize this aim, the presentation starts off with a brief literature review in order to identify some of the common narratives (re)produced by the British media in relation to the Qur’an, since knowledge of how the holy book is perceived influences public perception of Islam and Muslims. Drawing on narrative theory (Baker 2006), I introduce public and meta-narratives which are relevant to the data analysis. Using Lexis Nexis newspaper archives, I identify the Qur’anic verses repeatedly used by UK national newspapers between 11/9/2001 and 1/9/2016. I then qualitatively examine two of the newspaper articles featuring the most repeated verse to establish how narrative features (selective appropriation, causal emplotment, temporality and relationality) are used to frame the readers’ understanding and relate individual acts of violence to the Qur’an. By shedding more light on the active role of translation in the media, I hope to raise awareness of the dangers posed by misrepresenting the world’s second largest religion, and more importantly, of the dangers posed by accepting what is presented to us as news unquestioningly.


Baker, M. (2006) Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account, London & New York: Routledge.

Goffman, E. (1981) Forms of Talk, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

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Jonathan Evans (University of Portsmouth, UK)


In his more recent work, Australian-born cultural and media theorist McKenzie Wark takes the role of archaeologist and gatekeeper, digging out theories and scholarship that have been overlooked to develop his own aesthetic and political ideas and create a genealogy of those ideas. This paper will discuss how Wark’s writing selectively contributes to the afterlife of ideas through repurposing them as part of his own argument. Earlier work, including the investigation of the mediatization of global flows of information in Virtual Geography (1994) and the technology focused The Hacker Manifesto (2004) and Gamer Theory (2007), interacted with other scholarship but focused on the creation of concepts. His more recent work has, however, shifted towards an explicitly dialogic methodology of recovering and repurposing existing ideas. In two popularising books on the Situationists, The Beach Beneath the Street (2011) and The Spectacle of Disintegration (2013), Wark critically re-evaluates the writings of the Situationist International and its various off-shoots, questioning how the political and aesthetic ideas that they developed in the late 1950s and throughout the 1960s can be made relevant and useful for the contemporary moment and its distinctive problems. Wark’s next book, Molecular Red (2015), builds his theories for the Anthropocene through a dialogue with other writers, dragging their work into a different perspective and discourse: much of his argumentation relies on readings of fiction by Andrei Platonov and Kim Stanley Robinson, thereby effecting an epistemological translation of ideas from fiction to politically inflected critical theory. In addition, Molecular Red revisits critical thinking by the Bolshevik thinker Alexander Bogdanov and Donna Haraway’s feminist science studies. Wark therefore combines fiction with theory, science with humanities in a series of translations that aim to develop a possibility for new thinking and new action. Drawing on Lefevere’s (1992) positioning of translation in relation to other forms of rewriting, I will argue that these books employ translation in both the literal sense (of texts from one language to another) and a wider sense as ideas and concepts are reapplied in new contexts that can help shape contemporary political and critical debate.


Lefevere, A. (1992) Translation, Rewriting and the Manipulation of Literary Fame, London: Routledge.

Wark, M. (1994) Virtual Geography: Living with Global Media Events, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Wark, M. (2011) The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Time of the Situationist International, London: Verso.

Wark, M. (2013) The Spectacle of Disintegration: Situationist Passages Out of the Twentieth Century, London: Verso.

Wark, M. (2015) Molecular Red: Theory for the Anthropocene, London Verso.

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Fruela Fernández (Newcastle University, UK)


This paper will focus on the political uses of translation in Spain after the mass protests of 2011 – popularly known as the indignados or 15M (Delclós 2015) – by contextualising and analysing the multiple ways in which a series of translated authors (such as Antonio Gramsci, Owen Jones or Slavoj Žižek, among others) have been used, appropriated, and reinterpreted by different political actors within the Spanish Left. Since the start of the economic and social crisis in Spain, translation has become part of a wider process of opposition against the so-called Cultura de la Transición (“Culture of Transition”; Martínez 2012), the cultural and social status quo established in Spain during the period of ‘Transition to Democracy’ (1975-1982) that followed the Francoist dictatorship. This process of opposition to the CT has involved a reappraisal of Spanish culture with the aim of establishing a less hierarchical, more politicized, and transformative culture (Moreno Caballud 2015: 178-231). One of the expressions of this reappraisal has been the renewed visibility of politically-committed publishers (such as Akal, Capitán Swing, Lengua de Trapo, or Traficantes de Sueños, among others), which have reactivated a publishing model that enjoyed a short-lived prominence in the years after Francoism. These publishers have relied heavily on the translation of political texts, either through new commissions or through reprint of out-of-stock texts. By addressing how these translated texts are mediated by political actors, this paper will show how translation becomes a political tool with two potential effects: on the one hand, the expansion of political debate through the addition of new references, paradigms, and sources of counter-expertise; on the other hand, a “branding” (Bourdieu 2002) or appropriation of these texts that increases political actors’ social capital, while enabling them to favour certain readings of the political context.


Bourdieu, P. (2002) ‘Les conditions sociales de la circulation internationale des idées’, Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, 145: 3–8.

Delclós, C. (2015) Hope is a promise: From the Indignados to the Rise of Podemos in Spain, London: Zed Books.

Martínez, G. (2012) ‘El concepto CT’, in Guillem Martínez (ed.) CT o la Cultura de la Transición: Crítica a 35 años de cultura española, Barcelona: Mondadori, 13-23.

Moreno-Caballud, L. (2015) Cultures of Anyone: Studies on cultural democratization in the Spanish neoliberal crisis, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press.

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 Benjamin Geer (University of Basel, Switzerland)


This paper aims to identify the principal actors involved in the initial construction of nationalist concepts in Arabic, the conceptual materials they used, and the social forces that shaped this construction, focusing on evidence from Egypt. Scholars have tended either to assume that nationalism has always existed in Arabic and to anachronistically project it onto earlier sources, or to assume that it was simply imported from Europe sometime in the nineteenth century, because of opposition to colonialism or as part of a yearning to imitate European modernity. Moreover, relevant scholarship has been hampered by reliance on imprecise, preconstructed notions such as community, loyalty, and identity, which obscure the social interests at stake in the production of nationalist concepts.

To clarify which concepts were constructed when and by whom, I compare relevant terms in sources from the ninth century to the nineteenth century. This analysis suggests that Arabic acquired a key nationalist concept in the 1830s, when the the Arabic term watan (birthplace, home town) took on additional meanings from the French concept of patrie (country, homeland), which was geographically larger and seen as a personified object of duty. The concept of duty to one’s country then made it possible to use watan to motivate and legitimize a limitless variety of social practices. Importantly, it was not presented as yet another French concept needing to be translated into Arabic. Instead, it was blended with the earlier, prestigious meanings of watan, giving the impression that it had always been there. Watan thus became a specifically Arabic ‘invented tradition’, and this no doubt helped make its new, nationalist meaning seem plausible to a wide audience. It appears likely that one individual with an unusual social trajectory, the Egyptian teacher, school administrator, and translator Rifa‘a al-Tahtawi (1801-73), was mainly or entirely responsible for this blend. Tahtawi’s substantial writings on this concept do not support the view that it was initially associated with anti-colonial struggle, or with indiscriminate imitation of Europeans. Instead, it seems plausible that it enabled teachers of unorthodox or stigmatized knowledge, like Tahtawi, to acquire prestige and authority, and helped them motivate a generation of students to embrace previously unknown career paths. Over time, it made possible the formation of a nationalist field, in which journalists, novelists, and politicians would compete for recognition as authorities on the national interest.

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Rainer Guldin (Università della Svizzera Italiana, Switzerland)


Naoki Sakai links the rise of nation-states and the concomitant constitution of national languages to the schema of cofiguration, “a means by which a national community represents itself to itself, thereby constituting itself as a subject” (1999: 15). According to this view, national languages are countable, closed, homogeneous entities that communicate with each other across an intermediate space through translation processes and, like nation-states, define themselves in relation to each other as ‘imagined communities’ (Anderson 2016). These imagined communities, whether nation-states or national languages, are conceived as distinct personalities, each with its unique character. Karl Vossler (1932) thus defined national languages as self-contained individuals animated by a specific spirit and a single will expressed in a centripetal tendency. Sakai, on the other hand, questioned the ideological dimension of this line of argumentation, pointing to the reductionist interpretation of language and translation that ensues from it. Indeed, in the new translational regime that emerged around the nineteenth century, the fundamental heterogeneity and connectivity of languages and the transformative hybridizing character of translation have been successfully erased.

This presentation will draw on Sakai’s critical reading of national languages and the new regime of translation in the wider metaphorical context of the body politic and its transformations in the capitalist nation states of the nineteenth century. Against this background, I will argue that from Antiquity and for centuries to follow, the human body was used as a metaphor of the state. Bodily parts and organs were associated with different social classes and the functioning of society as a whole. Social divisions were not denied but justified as natural by reference to the setup of the human body. In the course of the nineteenth century, the old monarchic and aristocratic world of the Ancien Régime was replaced by new social classes which needed different symbolic forms of political representation that focused on internal unity and democratic equality. This called for metaphors that stress borders, inner cohesion and uniformity. The new spatial set up of the bourgeois parliament, for instance, tried to avoid the former hierarchic structure of the aristocratic body politic, translating it into an egalitarian democratic context (Manow 2008). Another important ideological conception short circuiting the bounded body of the nation, the national territory and the national language was the notion of national landscape (Guldin 2014) stressing closure and inner homogeneity, which are the very basis and presupposition of the new regime of translation described by Sakai.


Benedict, A. (2016) Imagined Communities: Reflections on the origin and spread of nationalism, Verso: London.

Guldin, R. (2014) Politische Landschaften: Zum Verhältnis von Raum und nationaler Identität, Transcript: Bielefeld.

Manow, P. (2008) Im Schatten des Königs: Die politische Anatomie demokratischer Repräsentation, Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main.

Sakai, N. (1999) Translation and Subjectivity: On ?Japan’ and cultural nationalism, Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Vossler, K. (1932) The Spirit of Language in Civilization, London: Kegan Paul.

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Ting Guo (University of Exeter, UK)

Jonathan Evans (University of Portsmouth, UK)



Although homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 2001 by China’s Ministry of Health, LGBT people continue to suffer from discrimination and harassment, lacking legal protection and access to healthcare in China. Media portraying homosexual and transgender topics has been strictly censored or banned by authorities, limiting public discussion of sexual and gender identity in China. However, in sharp contrast to the sanitized Chinese mainstream media, there is an abundance of translated international queer films available online, which are free for viewing and downloading by the Chinese public.

Through examining the translation activities of the well-known Chinese LGBT subgroup, QAF (Queer as Folk), and their translation of a British queer film The Weekend (2011), this paper investigates the role of fan translation in the wider context of the Chinese LGBT rights movement. It asks: What kinds of strategies have been employed by Chinese fan translators and activist translators in translating international queer films? How are these films used to interpret and disseminate key LGBT related concepts such as gender, sexuality and equality? How does translated international queer cinema promote discussion on LGBT rights among the public and shape the development of Chinese LGBT communities? It argues that the underground Chinese translation of international queer films not only provides new vocabulary and terms for LGBT-rights activists to educate, agitate and inspire the Chinese public, but also stimulates the development of a queer screen culture and encourages dialogues among LGBT communities, the mainstream media and the public in China. These links and connections found between online translation communities and LGBT movement in China also reveal the fluidity between fan translation and activist translation as well as the role of translators in defining and shaping the network of knowledge transfer and knowledge sharing.

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Pauline Henry-Tierney (University of Newcastle, UK)


Simone de Beauvoir’s Le Deuxième Sexe (1949) is a fundamental source of philosophical feminist knowledge, providing concrete evidence of women’s societal oppression and delineating the constructed nature of gender through an existential, phenomenological lens. Its translation into more than forty languages to date has contributed to shaping knowledge in discourses on gender and sexuality, and the centrality of Beauvoir’s text is testament to its continued relevance for feminist thought and activism in a multitude of global contexts. However, both the first English translation, The Second Sex, appearing in 1953, and its subsequent retranslation in 2009, have been met with criticism in relation to how Beauvoir’s philosophical argumentation has been misrepresented (Simons 1983, Moi 2010). While studies focus on the original translation or retranslation in isolation, in this paper I adopt a diachronic perspective by looking comparatively at both English translations in relation to Beauvoir’s French source text to examine how her exposition of the concept, ‘mauvaise foi’ has been translated. ‘Mauvaise foi’, or in English, ‘bad faith’ is an existentialist term which can be understood as the phenomenon of lying to oneself, namely, denying one’s innate freedom, thus living inauthentically. In Le Deuxième Sexe, Beauvoir articulates the specificities of bad faith as it relates to women, which she considers to be complicated further by their facticity. In three chapters, entitled, ‘La Narcissiste’ (The Narcissist), ‘L’Amoureuse’ (The Woman in Love) and ‘La Mystique’ (The Mystic), Beauvoir profiles these three archetypes to provide us with examples to understand the specificity of ‘bad faith’ as it is experienced by certain women and to recognize its continued pertinence for women’s lives today. For this reason, the issue of how her philosophical ideas have been presented differently over time via translation is of critical importance. By identifying specific shifts in the translations of these descriptions, I consider the impact these translation decisions bear on the transgenerational reception of Beauvoir’s text, underlining the crucial role translators play in influencing the dissemination of feminist thought.


Beauvoir, S. de. (1949) Le Deuxième Sexe, Paris: Gallimard.

Beauvoir, S. de. (1953) The Second Sex, trans. H.M. Parshley. New York: Knopf.

Beauvoir, S. de. (2009) The Second Sex, trans. C. Borde and S. Malovany-Chevallier. London: Vintage Books.

Moi, T. (2010) ‘The Adulteress Wife’, London Review of Books 32(3). Available online: https://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n03/toril-moi/the-adulteress-wife (last accessed 18/04/17).

Simons, M. (1983) ‘The Silencing of Simone de Beauvoir: Guess what’s missing from The Second Sex’, Women’s Studies International Forum 6(5): 559-564.

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Tania P. Hernández-Hernández (El Colegio de México – Cátedras CONACyT, Mexico)


The concept ‘in-translation’ was first used by Valérie Ganne and Marc Minon (1992) to refer to the importation of foreign books into a specific national space via translation. Since then, it has travelled and its meaning has expanded to describe other aspects influencing the international exchange of texts. These include power struggles and structures of domination (Casanova, 2004), as well as other dimensions, such as the legal frameworks and the spaces, mostly book fairs, where said exchanges are negotiated (Adamo, Añón & Wulichzer, 2010). In this paper, I contend that there are other elements and forces shaping the trajectories of translated books as well as their symbolic and material components. Hence, it is necessary to revisit the concept of in-translation.

Adopting a sociological approach to the analysis of translation in the publishing industry (Sapiro, 2012) and of knowledge production and circulation (Keim et al., 2016), I chart the translation and circulation of social science texts during the Argentine exile in Mexico (1976-1983). I start by referring to the different definitions of the concept of in-translation. Next, I present an overview of the socio-historical context that surrounded the arrival of scholars, intellectuals and journalists from Argentina to the Mexican academic, cultural and political fields, focusing on those individuals who were involved in the in-translation of social texts as translators, editors, revisors, or editorial managers. I then turn to the book collection “Cuadernos de Pasado y Presente”, which was republished in Mexico as “Biblioteca del Pensamiento Socialista”, to shed light on the material and symbolic changes observed in the collection in its transit from Argentina to Mexico. Finally, I will attempt to redefine the concept of in-translation.


Adamo, G., Añón, V. & Wulichzer, L. (2010) La extraducción en la Argentina: Venta de derechos de autor para las otras lenguas. Un estado de la cuestión, 2002-2009, Buenos Aires: Ministerio de Desarrollo Económico-Gobierno de la ciudad.

Casanova, P. (2004) The World Republic of Letters, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Ganne, V. & M. Minon (1992) ‘Géographies de la traduction’ in F. Barret-Ducrocq (ed.) Traduire l’Europe, Paris: Payot, 55-95.

Keim, W., E. Çelic, C. Ersche & V. Wöhrer (eds) (2014) Global Knowledge Production in the Social Sciences: Made in circulation, London: Routledge.

Sapiro, G. (ed.) (2012) Traduire la littérature et les sciences humaines : Conditions et obstacles, Paris: Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication.

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Shahrzad Irannejad (Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Germany)


It is well known that the ?Abbasid Translation Movement transformed Arabic into the lingua franca of scientific discourse in the medieval Islamic world. The present study shall examine how translation was important for the introduction of anatomical terminology into the medieval Islamic science and its consolidation. In this regard, the terminology of the anatomy of the brain and how this terminology, as well as the body of knowledge about brain anatomy, developed illustrate broader trends in the role of translated knowledge of anatomy and its dialogue with neighbouring branches of science in the evolution of scientific discourse in Arabic. I show how the terminology and knowledge of brain anatomy in the Arabic tradition was the outcome of the transformation of inherited Greek scientific models through a process of translation, summarization and dialogue with contemporaneous physiological and psychological theories.

While I draw on a number of Greek and Arabic texts composed between the second to the eleventh centuries, I shall focus mainly on the terminology of brain anatomy in Book Three of Avicenna’s highly influential medical encyclopaedia the Canon of Medicine. Avicenna’s brain anatomy in the third book of the Canon is a carefully crafted summary of ?unyan/?ubayš’s translations of Galen’s Anatomical Procedures and On the Usefulness of the Parts of the Body. I shall first examine the underlying mechanics that guided how Avicenna summarized the Arabic translations of Galen’s anatomical treatises. After comparing the terminology of brain anatomy in the two Galenic texts in the original Greek and the Arabic translation, I shall examine how brain anatomy was treated in works written in Arabic prior to Avicenna in order to see how Avicenna’s brain anatomy is a synthesis of translated and original Arabic sources. I conclude that translation shaped anatomical terminology regarding the brain in the Arabic tradition in such a way that the terminology is generally loyal to the Galenic tradition. On the other hand, I argue that the scientific knowledge of brain anatomy in works such as Avicenna’s Canon is the result of an organic synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy, Galenic anatomy, and post-Galenic physiological theories.

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 Henry Jones (University of Manchester, UK)


Wikipedia is the free online encyclopaedia that “anyone can edit” (Wikipedia: Homepage). Indeed, while the construction of most previous reference works has typically relied heavily on collaborative models of content creation (Feldstein 2011: 77), Wikipedia has exploited the potential of networked digital communications technologies to take this collaboration to a whole new level. The process of knowledge production and dissemination has been opened up to anyone with the time, technical capabilities and inclination to get involved, and a diverse community of over 200,000 otherwise unaffiliated individuals now regularly contribute to its articles. However, the most significant difference between Wikipedia and previous encyclopaedia projects relates to the fact that no structures for editorial oversight and planning exist within the crowd-sourced platform, and no special privilege is accorded to the contributions of experts over those of lay contributors. Instead, Wikipedians organize themselves in relatively horizontal structures of knowledge production in which participation and adherence to the core values of the community are valued at least as much as the personal authority and subject-specific expertise of any individual user.

For its supporters, this policy of radical openness constitutes a significant and valuable step in the gradual democratization of knowledge production. It helps dismantle elite control over the processes of determining information as fact, and mounts powerful challenges against top-down, ‘monological’ and exclusionary structures within science and politics (Hartelius 2010). For its critics, however, Wikipedia represents a worrying attack on the importance and validity of expert knowledge, and is symbolic of the populist politics of the post-truth era (Sanger 2005). This conference paper aims to explore how these contradictory pressures and tensions shape the collaborative processes of multilingual knowledge production and transmission involved in the construction of a selection of city-related articles in the English-language Wikipedia. Specifically, it adopts a socio-narrative theory-based approach (Baker 2006) to analyse the complex processes of intersubjective negotiation that take place between members of the socially, geographically and linguistically diverse communities working on these texts, and discusses how these users attempt to navigate questions of validity, truth and expertise.


Baker, M. (2006) Translation and Conflict: A narrative account, London & New York: Routledge.

Feldstein, A. (2011) ‘Deconstructing Wikipedia: Collaborative content creation in an open process platform’, Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 26: 76-84.

Hartelius, E. J. (2010) ‘Wikipedia and the Emergence of Dialogic Expertise’, Southern Communication Journal, 75(5): 505-526.

Sanger, L. (2005) ‘The Early History of Nupedia and Wikipedia: A memoir’. Available online at: https://features.slashdot.org/story/05/04/18/164213/the-early-history-of-nupedia-and-wikipedia-a-memoir (last accessed 18/04/17).

Wikipedia: Homepage: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page (last accessed 18/04/17).

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Ji-Hae Kang (Ajou University, Republic of Korea)


This presentation considers the ways in which the translation of Western medical knowledge influenced the relationship between the Korean language and the various other languages and écritures that constituted the complex linguistic landscape in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century Korea. The transmission of Western medical knowledge in Korea is intricately linked to the rise of the Christian missionary movement, the expansion of Japanese colonial governance, and changes in local attitudes vis-á-vis Chinese culture and Western ideas. In Korean academia, the transfer of Western medical knowledge at the turn between the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries has mostly been explored in terms of the binary framework of missionary and colonial medicine (Cho 2009, Jung 2010, Park 2010). However, translation activities carried out by medical missionary institutions and Japanese colonial healthcare providers both raise complex questions related to changes in perceptions concerning language and script, traditional knowledge, and nationalist identity that cannot be answered from a dichotomous perspective.

In this study, I explore two cases of Korean translation of Jitsuyo Kaibogaku (実用解剖学, Practical Anatomy), a Japanese anatomy textbook written in 1887 by Tsukanu Imada. The source text was respectively translated by Pil–Soon Kim in 1906 and Byung-Pil Yu in 1907. Kim was affiliated with Chechungwŏn (제중원, House of Universal Helpfulness), Korea’s modern Western hospital and medical school operated by Protestant missionaries. Yu, on the other hand, was an instructor at Taehanŭiwŏn Kyoyukpu (대한의원 교육부, Great Korean Hospital Medical Education Division) where the courses were mostly taught by Japanese doctors. Drawing on the concepts of ‘translation policy’, ‘digraphia’ (DeFrancis 1984) and ‘social network’ (Milroy 1987), this presentation will examine the relationship between translation, script choice and geopolitical-cultural dynamics. Based on an analysis of two translations, newspaper and magazine articles, translator’s notes/prefaces and letters written by related actors, the study argues that the orthographical choices of the translators in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century are associated with the changing linguistic and geopolitical landscape; and that the chosen method of translation, including the choice of script, made a significant contribution to the ideological meaning of a translated text. The findings suggest that a more nuanced understanding of the role of translation of medical knowledge is needed in exploring transitions and transformations in modern Korean history.


Cho, H. K. (2009) ‘Ilceyuy Kongsikuylyowa Kaysinkyo Senkyouylyokan Heykeymoni Kyengcayngkwa Ku Sahoycek Hyokwa [Hegemonic Competition and its Social Effects: Focusing on the Japanese Colonial Medicine and Protestant Missionary Medicine]’, Sahoywa Yeksa [Society and History], 82: 123-165.

DeFrancis, J. (1984) ‘Digraphia’, Word, 35(1): 59-66.

Jung, J. Y. (2010) ‘Sikminci Uyhakkyoyukkwa Heykeymoni Kyengcayng [Medical Education and Hegemony Competition in Colonial Korea]’, Sahoywa Yeksa [Society and History], 85: 197-237.

Milroy, L. (1987) Language and Social Networks, 2nd ed. Oxford: Blackwell.

Park, Y. (2010) ‘The Trend and Prospect of Studies in the Modern History of Medicine in Korea’, Korean Journal of Medical History, 19(1): 45-68.

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Nannan Liu (University of Mainz, Germany)


Walter Benjamin was discovered by the Chinese knowledge class in the 1980s, and since then his main works have been regularly translated and retranslated. Today, Benjamin’s works have not only been adopted in almost all areas of the social sciences and humanities in China, his critical ideas on cultural modernity in terms of bohème, flâneur or Aura have also reached a broader readership beyond the ivory tower of the knowledge elite.

This presentation will examine the introduction of Benjamin’s work in China in the 1980s, with a view to illuminating the role played by translators and other gatekeepers in China’s post-revolutionary socio-cultural conversions. Translational acts will be situated within a network of agents, texts and institutions, with a focus on the special relationship between the Chinese intelligentsia and translation during a period of social transition. Bauman’s (1999) discussion of ideology will provide a framework for identifying the different types of relations that exist between the knowledge class and society. I will then focus on the impact of the discovery of the first translation of Benjamin’s Charles Baudelaire. Ein Lyriker im Zeitalter des Hochkapitalismus in the 1980s, specifically the figures of the modern bohème and flâneur in Benjamin’s writing, and their influence on shaping the collective social identity of post-Mao Chinese intellectuals. Here I will draw on a heuristical concept of translational discovery (Entdeckung), which means finding something hitherto unknown, hidden or sought. Discovery will be understood primarily as an event (Ereignis – Heidegger) and therefore something performative. By revealing something so far unknown, the event of discovery exposes its inherent transformative violence that sets a caesura and causes a crack in the prevailing continuity. With respect to the practical problems in determining who discovered something and when something was discovered, as shown in Kuhn’s profound critique of the notion, I will follow Dilek Dizdar’s (2014) suggestion to look at the scene of the discovery. The scene in this context can be understood as a stage, a showplace, where the active players, the muted players and the spectators interact with each other. In this sense, discovery constitutes a space of power relations between heterogeneous elements, thus providing a framework for the investigation of the politics of translation.


Bauman, Z. (1999) In Search of Politics, Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Dizdar, D. (2014) ‘Auf der Suche nach Trüffelschweinen oder: Übersetzen als Entdecken’, in A. Kelletat & A. Tashinskiy (eds) Übersetzer als Entdecker. Ihr Leben und Werk als Gegenstand translationswissenschaftlicher und literaturgeschichtlicher Forschung, Berlin: Frank & Timme, 31-50.

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Joana Malta (Universidade Nova de Lisboa / Universidade dos Açores, Portugal)


The Free Seminar of History of Ideas research group is building an extensive digital database of the most important twentieth century Portuguese magazines of ideas and culture. Known as the Magazines of Ideas and Culture Project, this multidisciplinary initiative – which encompasses knowledge from areas such as history of ideas, library studies, and information science – involves the compilation of both the magazine articles themselves and a range of materials aiming to facilitate a comprehensive reading and interpretation of them. Users of this database are thus presented with a corpus of texts and contextualising descriptors that foreground the programmatic and doctrinarian aspects of these magazines, from a perspective grounded in the fields of history of ideas and conceptual history. This presentation focuses on the magazine A Águia, published between 1910 and 1932. Described in its subtitle as a ‘monthly magazine of literature, art, science, philosophy, and social critique’, A Águia was the main organ of the republican Renascença Portuguesa, one of the most noteworthy intellectual movements of early twentieth century Portuguese history.

This presentation will first examine the intellectual networks formed within the context of A Águia. Using graphs, charts and maps, it will reveal the links that exist between individual authors who wrote regularly for the magazine and the authors quoted in their texts, thus highlighting the connections and mutual influences between authors and their ideas, thoughts, and intellectual backgrounds. The presentation will then move on to trace conceptual networks featuring in the work of a selected number of contributors to the magazine. A quantitative analysis of the descriptors included in the database brings to light constellations of concepts used by different authors, and identifies any differences, whether profound or subtle, that may exist between their respective intellectual backgrounds. By relying on these methods, the project aims to gain a better understanding of the ideological foundations of early Portuguese republicanism.

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 Cláudia S. Martins (Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil)


Until a few decades ago, Joyce was seen as a writer who had revolutionized the literature of his time with stylistic and aesthetic innovations, but who had remained absolutely apolitical. In recent decades, however, this view was demystified by Joycean scholars such as Dominic Manganiello, Emer Nolan, Seamus Deane, Colin MacCabe and Maria Tymoczko, among others. Some, like Len Platt (2007) and Vincent Cheng (1995), discussed race as a central theme in Joyce’s works, and particularly in Finnegans Wake. According to these authors, Finnegans Wake was a response to the nationalist and eugenic discourse adopted by many right-wing thinkers and groups in the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century, culminating in Nazism.

In Finnegans Wake, Joyce satirized, by means of puns, portmanteau words and other hybrid constructions, ideas of racial purity that were then in vogue, as well as the Nazi ideology itself. This presentation will look at examples taken from three complete translations of Finnegans Wake (two translations into French, one by Philippe Lavergne and the other by Hervé Michel; and one into Brazilian Portuguese, by Donaldo Schüler) in order to discuss how Joyce’s criticism of ideas of racial purity, ‘scientific’ racism and Nazism was conveyed in these translations. Two important factors to be taken into account are the critical frameworks and the critical and exegetical studies available to each of these translators, as the time period covered by the three translations is relatively long: from 1982 (Lavergne’s translation, which was the first complete translation of the book) to 2016 (the most recent online update by Michel, who has been working on his translation since 1997). The emergence of new critical frameworks, especially the post-colonial studies, and the impact of new sources and tools available on the Internet, such as FWEET.org, may explain why recent translations show a greater awareness of Joyce’s political views.


Cheng, V. (1995) Joyce, Race and Empire, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Platt, L. (2007) Joyce, Race and Finnegans Wake, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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Julia Martins (The Warburg Institute, UK)


Recipe compilations were present in Europe from the end of antiquity and until well into the nineteenth century. In the sixteenth century, they started to be called ‘books of secrets’, since ‘secret’ was understood as a synonym for ‘recipe’, and to be published in print (Eamon 1994). Books of secrets were therefore early modern printed recipe books, which coexisted with the manuscript tradition of recipe compilations. They contained different kinds of knowledge organized as practical recipes, many of which were medical. In the early modern period, and thanks to their larger circulation in print, these books reached the peak of their success. This trend started in Italy, with the publication in Venice of the Dificio di ricette in 1529. Other books of secrets appeared in the 16th century in Italy, such as Alessio Piemontese’s (1555) and Isabella Cortese’s (1561) works, also published in Venice.  Written in Italian, and translated into other vernaculars and into Latin, these books attained an important circulation in Europe. They also inspired other compilations of secrets published in countries where Italian books of secrets had become popular.

The aim of this paper is to analyse how printed books of secrets, originally Italian ‘bestsellers’, became a European phenomenon through the translation of these works from Italian into French, German, English and Latin. My goal is to discuss the editorial success of books of secrets through the comparison of translations from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, focusing on the medical recipes. I will also analyse the role played by different agents in the translation and diffusion of books of secrets, such as the ‘professors of secrets’ (the authors of these compilations), their translators, and printers, who formed a ‘network’ of knowledge in early modern Europe. Therefore, I will compare Italian medical recipes contained in books of secrets with their translations, focusing on the strategies translators used to render the recipes understandable to new readers and the methods developed by printers to adapt these books to their new readerships.


Eamon, W. (1994) Science and the Secrets of Nature, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Piemontese, A. (1555) I Secreti del reverendo donno Alessio Piemontese, Venice.

Cortese, I. (1561) I Secreti della signora Isabella Cortese, Venice.

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Timothy McLellan (Cornell University, USA)


“You must become more outcomes focused”, the global director for impact science told colleagues at the China office of The Institute for Farms and Forests (IFF), an international agri-environmental research organization. Responding to such demands from their Africa-based headquarters as well as from donor organizations, scientists at IFF’s China office are now learning to do “outcomes thinking”. Outcomes thinking is a collection of techniques – including ‘theories of change’, ‘impact pathways’, and ‘outcomes mapping’ – that allow scientists to imagine a pathway from research to impact. Having devised these pathways, outcomes thinking scientists employ audit or monitoring and evaluation (M&E) techniques to measure progress towards their planned-for impact upon the world. Here, outcomes thinking shifts IFF scientists away from evincing work done through the production of academic articles. This reflects a shift similar to the UK’s Research Excellence Framework (REF) which now emphasizes the measurement of a university’s “impact” defined as “an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia”.

For IFF scientists in China, coming to grips with outcomes thinking has been a frustrating process. Central to these frustrations is a temporal incongruity between outcomes thinking and conventional models of scientific knowledge production. Proponents of outcomes thinking ask scientists to imagine a future world they want to build, and then to make strategic plans for bringing this world into being. This implies a mastery of the future – an ability to shape the future to scientists’ designs – that contrasts dramatically with the aspirations IFF scientists conventionally have for their research. In their conventional work, rather than concrete plans on the future, IFF scientists express vaguely-defined hopes that others will take up and build upon the insights of their published work. The shift to outcomes thinking therefore represents a shift from a hope that one’s research will be taken up in an as-yet-unknown manner to a modality in which scientists imagine research as a means to effecting preconceived futures. This re-imagination of the temporality of scientific knowledge production has far reaching implications for how scientists are expected to relate to society, as well as to each other. I argue that the emergence of techniques like outcomes thinking demands not only that we interrogate the temporalities of emerging audit cultures, but also that we reflect upon the temporalities in which we should imagine our own engagements with the world.

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Jasper Montana (University of Cambridge, UK)


In Leviathan and the Air-Pump (Shapin and Schaffer 1985), the foundation of the Royal Society provided a fertile setting in which to examine how “experimental practices became institutionalized […] into the foundations of what counted as proper scientific knowledge” (p.5). In this paper, I reveal how similar debates about the practices of authoritative knowledge production are playing out in a contemporary organizational setting, the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). Established through the United Nations system, this expert advisory panel for biodiversity is implicated in a volatile power struggle between global and local knowledge production, the rights of indigenous peoples and local communities, conflicting values of nature, and constitutional questions about the relationship between science and the state. Much like the debates in Seventeenth Century England, each of these tensions can be understood as negotiations over how to organize the social order in the service of scientific authority as an aspirational ideal. Drawing together participant observations and interviews into an analysis following the co-productionist tradition of science and technology studies (Jasanoff 2004), this paper examines the way in which the organization of social collectives can be used to stabilize and circulate the practices of knowledge production to support new models of expert authority. However, questions remain about whether expert authority can be meaningfully developed through networked communities of practice, or if a Leviathan model of centralized authority is necessary to maintain order in an increasingly pluralist domain of scientific endeavour. In this moment of emergence, negotiations taking place around IPBES reflect a genealogy of expertise in the process of becoming.


Borie, M. & M. Hulme (2015) ‘Framing Global Biodiversity: IPBES between mother earth and ecosystem services’, Environmental Science & Policy 54: 487-496.

Jasanoff, S. (ed.) (2004) States of Knowledge: The co-production of science and social order, London: Routledge.

Montana, J. (2017) ‘Accommodating Consensus and Diversity in Environmental Knowledge Production: Achieving closure through typologies in IPBES’, Environmental Science and Policy 68: 20-27.

Shapin, S. & S. Schaffer (1985) Leviathan and the Air-Pump: Hobbes, Boyle, and the Experimental Life, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.

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Agnieszka Pantuchowicz (University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw, Poland)


The mainstreaming of what Andresen and Dölling (2005) call gender knowledge (‘Geschlechter-Wissens’), along with its translation into policy, demand conceptualization on the level of institutionally produced knowledge. Although some academic institutions and feminist networks in Poland have attempted to influence this process, their interventions have so far failed to translate into political action and a commitment to equality. This failure, as I will argue, is at least partly the result of the adoption of specific strategies in translations of gender-related texts into Polish. The crucial aspect of these strategies is a preference for foreignizing the concept of gender, as evident not only in the decision to retain the term in its original English form, but also in explicit presentations of the translations as texts that are introducing foreign ideas into the Polish cultural space. These strategies result in a strategic “conceptual silence” (Bakker 1994) which prevents successful mainstreaming of the concept and leaves room for a variety of agents to manipulate it in the sphere of popular knowledge. This is particularly visible in Poland now, given the current resurgence of discourses of patriotism, nationalism and natural laws, all of which treat the very notion of gender as a threat. This presentation will explore some of the strategies that have contributed to the creation of gender as a conceptually silent category, on the basis of an analysis of translations and translators’ introductions to the Polish versions of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble, Gayatri Spivak’s ‘The Politics of Translation’ and Lori Chamberlain’s ‘Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation’. I will also discuss some of the ways in which attempts at mainstreaming gender are manipulated by mass media, and indeed undermined by extending the translational strategy of foreignizing the concept to one of ‘denaturalizing’ it, thus popularizing gender as a category that threatens both the political and the natural order.


Andresen, S. & I. Dölling (2005) ‘Umbau des Geschlechter-Wissens von ReformakteurInnen durch Gender Mainstreaming’, in Ute Behning and Birgit Sauer (eds) Was Bewirkt Gender Mainstreaming Evaluierung durch Policy-Analysen, Frankfurt am Main: Campus Verlag, 171-187.

Bakker, I. (ed.) (1994) The Strategic Silence. Gender and Economic Policy, London: Zed Books.

Bukowski, P. and M. Heidel (eds) (2009) Współczesne teorie przekładu, Kraków: Wydawnictowo Znak.

Butler, J. (1990) Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity, Routledge: New York.

Chamberlain, L. (1988) ‘Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation’, Signs 13: 454-472.

Spivak, G. (1999) Outside in the Teaching Machine, New York: Routledge.

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Manuel Pavón-Belizón (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Spain)


Focusing on the transnational circulation of China’s production in the Humanities and Social Sciences, this presentation will seek to analyze how specific translational initiatives are carried out within a context of power shifts, and how they reflect and relate to geopolitical factors. The aim will be to shed light on some of the ways in which current geopolitical transformations influence the dynamics of circulation and legitimation of knowledge.

In the Chinese case, the accumulation of capital has increasingly implied an accumulation of what Bourdieu called “national capital”, i.e. “economic, political, cultural and linguistic advantages related to national membership” (2000:345) that can be transmitted to cultural producers from that geopolitical location. This influences translational initiatives at two levels: first, increased material resources support official/institutional efforts to increase the transnational visibility of China’s cultural production through programmes for the translation into English and publication of works from those fields; second, China’s rise has made the country an object of general interest, and we consequently find a growing transnational interest in engaging with Chinese knowledge producers. This interest may be motivated by corporate, material stakes, but it may be also driven by ideological affinities and symbolic gains. The interests at play at those different levels ultimately determine which authors, works or ideas get to be translated and published, and how they are translated and published.

The presentation will focus on two distinct translation initiatives: first, the initiatives supported by the Chinese Fund for the Humanities and Social Sciences; and second, initiatives originating from the European and American new left circles. The analysis will be based on: (1) a close reading of paratextual elements (introductions, prologues, reviews) of the translated texts, as well as other relevant documents related to those initiatives (especially, in the first case, programme presentations and application requirements); and (2) interviews with agents participating in such initiatives (translators, editors, promoters). The aim will be to demonstrate that the conditions for the translation and circulation of knowledge in the field of the Humanities and Social Sciences are the product of a negotiation between certain structural determinants and the agency of mediators. The current geopolitical context is a unique opportunity to analyze the relationship between power and the production, circulation and legitimation of knowledge, given that we are witnessing unprecedented geopolitical shifts that, for the first time in more than a century, lay bare the innermost mechanisms of that relationship.


Bourdieu, P. (2000) Les structures sociales de l’économie, Paris: Seuil.

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Tony Sandset (University of Oslo, Norway)


Recent innovations in HIV treatment have made major strides in both extending life expectancy for HIV+ individuals as well as keeping HIV+ individuals healthier and less prone to opportunistic diseases by so called ARV (antiretroviral treatment). The goal of ARV is to suppress viral load to so-called ‘undetectable’ levels while keeping a high CD4 count (important metric for immune system). In light of this HIV has by some pundits and scholars been called in the Western World a chronic disease as long as ARV treatment is successful. This presentation examines the disruption, deconstruction and translation that this represents in terms of the ways in which we think about HIV; and how subjectivities are formed in this tension filled space between ‘fatal/chronic’, ‘detectable/undetectable’, ‘positive/negative’. It focuses on the ways in which metrics such as viral load and CD4 counts are translated into a discourse that makes problematic binaries like the ones that have just been mentioned. This is investigated through a lens that states that these deconstructive movements are indeed translations of highly specialized medical knowledge and medical technologies and that these in turn have powerful effects on the ways in which HIV+ individuals come to understand their own subjectivities.

In moving medical knowledge such as viral load and CD4 figures from blood tests and other metrics, HIV+ communities have come to be interpellated in novel ways that have profound effects on sexuality, desire, notions of health/wellbeing, and subjectivities. This must also be seen in light of the vocabulary that the HIV pandemic historically has been embedded in since it started out as a ‘plague’. A comparison of the vocabulary in the 1980s with the one used today reveals that a profound translational turn has influenced the field. Advances in knowledge and medical technologies have led to the dissemination of a new discourse within HIV+ communities: their members no longer navigate binaries, as a myriad of ways of claiming HIV+ status have become available. Serostatus is no longer the victim of doom and gloom; instead, it offers novel ways of understanding one’s own subjectivity, body and health as well as the broader HIV discourse.

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Ariel Shangguan (Newcastle University, UK)


This presentation examines the temporal-spatial conditionality of political concepts and its translation into Chinese discourse. Specifically, it compares and contrasts Kenneth Waltz’s Theory of International Politics with its Chinese editions and assesses how some key realist concepts used in the discipline of International Politics have become both transformed and transformative in the process of translation. Using Reinhart Koselleck’s method of conceptual history, I will first address the problem of conceptual change in the process of translation and argue that any translation of a political concept is subject to what literary critic Robert Scholes (1977: 21) once called “the curse of temporality”. I will also identify two types of temporality that lead to conceptual changes when translating Waltz’s terms into their Chinese equivalences: the internal temporality that is inherent in the Chinese language itself, and the external temporality that is the period in which a particular translation is produced. The second part of the presentation then places each translated concept back into its context and looks at how the translated concepts can alter the way in which the original text can be interpreted. Borrowing insights from Karl Mannheim’s stylistic approach to the sociology of knowledge, it argues that the Chinese interpretation of Waltz’s book based on the conceptually transformed terminologies is likely to result in the formation of a new style of thought regarding international politics which is different from the one Waltz intended for his book and which, too, is distinct to its own temporalities. The presentation concludes with the call for further research on the relationship between translation and one’s understanding of international politics.


Koselleck, R. (2002) The Practice of Conceptual History: Timing history, spacing concepts, Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Koselleck, R. (2004) Future Past: On the semantics of historical time, New York: Columbia University Press.

Scholes, R. (1977) ‘The Reality of Borges’, The Iowa Review, 8(3): 12-25.

Waltz, K. N. (1979) Theory of International Politics, Long Grove, Illinois: Waveland press.

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 Eva Spišiaková (University of Edinburgh, UK)


As the Velvet Revolution of 1989 overturned the socialist regime in the former Czechoslovakia, it brought with it an unprecedented wave of freedoms; the press and the publishing houses no longer had to adhere to the censorial guidelines of the Communist party, and freedom of speech ensured that many subjects that had been taboo for more than four decades were suddenly spoken about in public. The voices of gays and lesbians that had been silenced under the repressive government were immediately heard, forcing the newly established political scene as well as the whole population to acknowledge, if not welcome, their existence. One of the first goals of the grassroots movement that started appearing immediately after the borders opened was to educate and break the embargo on information about LGBT subjects imposed by the previous government. To borrow a term from queer theory, this gradual process resembles the performative work of coming out (Sedgwick Kosofsky, 1990, p. 4).

Despite the fact that nearly thirty years have passed since the revolution, research on this crucial development in the history of Czechoslovakia’s LGBT community is still minimal, with very few published works mapping the societal changes so far (Lorencová, 2006; Schindler, Seidl and Himl, 2013). My research aims to fill in the blanks on the role of translation in the process of transforming the gay and lesbian community from an invisible entity, defined almost solely by marginalized medical discourse, into a recognized and represented part of the society. The presentation will map the evolution of the terminology and discourse surrounding homosexuality through translated texts and the forms in which they reached the two languages, Czech and Slovak. It will further identify changes in information sources as the hegemony of the Russian language was replaced by English in the newly democratic country, and ask what impact translators and their work had on the conceptualization of homosexuality that still influences the modern day Czech Republic and Slovakia.


Lorencová, V. (2006) Becoming Visible: Queer in Postsocialist Slovakia, PhD Dissertation, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Schindler, F., J. Seidl & P. Himl (2013) Miluji tvory svého pohlaví, Prague: ARGO.

Sedgwick Kosofsky, E. (1990) Epistemology of the Closet, Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press.

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Mihael Švitek (Technical University Dresden, Germany)


This presentation argues that a wide array of textual manifestations of ideology can be analysed automatically. It begins by advocating the need to place the term ‘ideology’ again at the centre of linguistic and cultural research. Against the background of the intricate history of ‘ideology’, I will present a heuristic ‘map of the field’ (Maynard 2013) and deliver a short overview of the discursive, conceptual and quantitative approaches to contemporary analyses of ideology. This will be followed by the proposal of a provisional definition of the concept that may inform semi-automated analyses of its textual realizations.

The second part of this presentation focuses primarily on methodological and methodical aspects of my semi-automated approach to the analysis of semantic change around specific terms, and examines whether and how ideological language can be operationalized. Drawing on the notions ‘chain of equivalence’ (Laclau and Mouffe 1985) and ‘decontestation of concepts’ (Freeden 1996), as well as the linguistic theory of frame semantics (Konerding 1993), I will contend that the production of meaning, and thus ideological ‘truth’, follows certain linguistic rules and can be clearly defined and conceived through language usage analysis. A self-developed method for the automated extraction and elaborated semantic exploration of any concept from large text corpora will be presented.

The final part of my presentation outlines an exemplary framework for conceptual research in political and cultural sciences with the help of corpus linguistic methods. A synchronic comparison of the contemporary German right-wing encyclopedia Metapedia and Wikipedia will reveal the means through which crucial concepts like Volk (a people) or culture are charged semantically to construct ideological coherency.


Bubenhofer, N. (2009) Sprachgebrauchsmuster. Korpuslinguistik als Methode der Diskurs- und Kulturanalyse, Berlin & New York: de Gruyter.

Freeden, M. (1996) Ideologies and Political Theory. A conceptual approach, Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Laclau, E. & C. Mouffe (1985) Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a radical democratic politics, London and New York: Verso.

Konerding, K. (1993) Frames und lexikalisches Bedeutungswissen: Untersuchungen zur linguistischen Grundlegung einer Frametheorie und zu ihrer Anwendung in der Lexikographie, Tu¨bingen: De Gruyter.

Maynard, J. L. (2013) ‘A map of the field of ideological analysis’, Journal of Political Ideologies, 18 (3): 299–327.

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Franziska Toscher (Università degli Studi di Udine, Italy)


One of the main tasks of historiography is to tell the events of the past, in a lucid and objective way, to contemporary and future audiences. The same principle applies to the translation of the historiographical discourse, especially when the translation occurs in a context in which the events have profoundly marked not only the common history of two countries, but also the perception of each other, in this case Italy and Germany.

This paper starts from an awareness of the fact that, in the sphere of specialized translation, the language of historiography has so far been little studied, and that this is especially true when considering the case of research articles and scientific essays, which have the function of circulating knowledge in a quick and easily intelligible way. In order to investigate translation in this particular field, some significant texts have been selected, based on a larger investigation of a corpus of ca. 30 texts (original, translated and parallel texts). Specifically, we analyse five articles written by some of the major Italian experts in the history of World War II (Enzo Collotti, Gustavo Corni, Filippo Focardi, Brunello Mantelli, Claudio Natoli) and translated into German by German historians. Starting from the purely linguistic elements, especially the translation of historiographical vocabulary (such as realia, names of institutions and other cultural specificities), we will present an interpretation of the translated texts that goes beyond the textual sphere. In particular, we will try to explain the position taken by the (German) translators, which will be compared with the original (Italian) author’s vision about the described historical facts.


Coffin, C. (2006) Historical Discourse: The Language of Time, Cause and Evaluation, London, Continuum.

Hyland, K. et al. (ed.) (2012) Stance and Voice in Written Academic Genres, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Janik, C. (2007) Epistemologische Handlungen in geschichtswissenschaftlichen Texten. Zum Gebrauch evidentieller Markierungen in russischen und deutschen wissenschaftlichen Artikeln, Hamburg: Kovac.

Lässig, S. (2012) Übersetzungen in der Geschichte – Geschichte als Übersetzung? Überlegungen zu einem analytischen Konzept und Forschungsgegenstand für die Geschichtswissenschaft, in Geschichte und Gesellschaft, 2: 189–216.

Liermann, C. et al. (ed.) (2007) Vom Umgang mit der Vergangenheit. Ein deutsch–italienischer Dialog. Come affrontare il passato? Un dialogo italo–tedesco, Tübingen: Niemeyer.

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Przemysław Uściński (University of Warsaw, Poland)


The argument that Queer Theory is an inadequate tool for (the still much needed) political and cultural change in Poland already has an established tradition. For a long time now, LG(BT) activists have focused on identity-based postulates and strategies, endorsing more essentialist views on sexuality and claiming those to be necessary to adopt in the local context in order to transform the ‘backward’ attitudes to gender and sexuality prevalent in Polish society. In contrast to this ‘modernizing’ activist narrative, queer theorists such as Lee Edelman have questioned the political usefulness and effectiveness of such projects. Hence, the question of doing politics has become increasingly linked with the question of the available ways of thinking about what politics is – and how thinking about (and translating) the connections between politics, the study of sexuality and the discourses of queerness may either resist or become vulnerable to predetermined political goals.

Against this background, the scanty, belated and highly selective translations of a number of influential texts in Queer Theory have had some impact on the reception of alternative views on LGBT activism in Poland. I will attempt to trace various links between Polish translations of some texts – by David Halperin, Michael Warner and Lee Edelman, for instance – and the dissemination/assimilation (or lack thereof) of Queer Theory in Polish academic and non-academic discourses. I will discuss how the quality, timing and distribution of translated texts – whether dispersed and fragmentary texts or passages preselected and anthologized as ‘representative’ – result in a somewhat ‘distorted’ genealogy of Queer Studies in Poland, where, as in many other countries, the discipline is mediated also by gaps and discontinuities in translation practice. This will highlight questions of transfer, locality and location, but also of nativity and (a resistance to) foreignness, as inevitably crucial for thinking about the broader reception of academic and scientific developments. These questions are even more crucial in the context of attempts to deploy a ‘scientific’ or ‘theoretical’ discourse for political ends, especially when this includes rethinking the very limits and goals of the political.

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Gerhard Wiesenfeldt (University of Melbourne, Australia)


During the first half of the seventeenth century, Leiden University housed three different kinds of mathematics associated with the different languages it had been written in. While each kind related to a different culture of knowledge and a different social setting, translations between Dutch and Latin and from Arabic into Latin changed the relation between the knowledge cultures.

The traditional Latin mathematics had been shaped by Rudolf and Willebrord Snellius in the framework of Ramist philosophy, which stood against the humanist mainstream of the university that was primarily represented by the philological work of Justus Lipsius and Julius Scaliger. While Scaliger had already branched out into mathematics, the humanist tradition in mathematics acquired a more important role with the appointment of Jacobus Golius as professor of Arabic in 1625 and was then based on the mathematical writings that Golius had brought back from his travels to Morocco and Syria. Finally, there was the Dutch mathematics, which had been set up to teach practical mathematics in the vernacular to craftsmen aspiring to become surveyors or military engineers. Represented by Ludolf van Ceulen and Frans van Schooten, its academic status was precarious, yet it enjoyed support among the student population and the Leiden City Council.

This presentation explores the relation between the three kinds of mathematics at Leiden. While there was a certain amount of antagonism between the different intellectual traditions, the connections between them became increasingly close, not the least through extensive translations. Willebrord Snellius undertook an extensive program of translations between Dutch and Latin mathematics, with the idea to embed the practical ideal of Dutch mathematics in the humanist traditions at Leiden. Jacob Golius was also connected to Dutch mathematics, not the least as the son-in-law of Frans van Schooten. His translational work from Arabic took up examples from Snellius by presenting the content of manuscripts in his lectures instead of providing full publications. The interactions of the three kinds of mathematics happened in contexts in which the city of Leiden demanded an expansion of practical mathematical expertise to fulfil the needs of a rapidly growing city. Mathematical sciences challenged the established order of philosophy and the Dutch East India Company voiced their expectations of connecting academic knowledge to their needs. In this context, Dutch mathematics became more philosophical, Latin mathematics more practical, and Arabic mathematics part of the cultural establishment of the university.


Wiesenfeldt, W. (forthcoming) ‘The ‘Duytsche Mathematicque’: The culture of mathematics and the family network of Leiden University’,” in E. Jorink, I. Nieuwland & H. Zuidervaart (eds) Locations of Knowledge, Leiden: Brill.

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Krisztina Zimányi (Universidad de Guanajuato, Mexico)

Verónica Murillo Gallegos (Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico)

Anna Maria D’Amore (Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, Mexico)



One of the earliest centres for translation in the “New World” was the Colegio de Santa Cruz, founded in 1536 at Tlatelolco in New Spain. The Spanish Franciscan friars employed methods that ranged from idealistic and mild-mannered preaching to less pious coercive techniques of a more inquisitorial nature in their recruitment of the services of the indigenous Nahua elders and the indoctrinated indigenous youth in their charge, the trilingual Nahuatl, Castilian and Latin-speaking scholars trained to be interpreters, preachers, catechists, translators and scribes. Yielding words rather than arms, the intellectual duel between these unequal parties working in close collaboration can serve as the basis for a conceptualization of translation activities in pluriversal realities.

Considering the distinct features characteristic of translations carried out for the purposes of evangelization in a colonial setting, we will argue that discipline-specific taxonomies established in isolation do not adequately address the issues at hand. Through the analysis of works written by Franciscan friars in collaboration with Nahua indigenous scribes at the Colegio, we propose to examine the complexity of both the process and the product of translation, drawing on cultural philosophy and linguistic fields such as sociolinguistics and lexicology, as well as translation studies.

The enquiry comprises of two complementary approaches: firstly, a documentary analysis of the contemporary manuscripts with special reference to the process of translation-interpreting and any corollary activities where the study of the role of the translator-interpreters takes centre stage; and secondly, a close semantic-pragmatic analysis of the translated text, with particular attention to the representation of deities in the parallel corpora. This double-pronged enquiry reveals that the indigenous translator-interpreters were more than mere mediators and clearly exercised agency in completing their task, possibly, as resistance to the ideological imperialism that accompanied the military campaigns during the conquest of the Americas.


Mignolo, W. D. (2000) Local histories/global designs: Coloniality, subaltern knowledges, and border thinking, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Ríos Castaño, V. (2014) Translation as conquest: Sahagún and universal history of the things of New Spain, Madrid: Iberoamericana / Vervuert.

Sahagún, F. B. (1986) Coloquios y doctrina cristiana, Mexico City: Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

Sahagún, F. B. (2006) Historia general de las cosas de la Nueva España (11th ed.), Mexico City: Porrúa.

Valdeón, R. A. (2014) Translation and the Spanish empire in the Americas, Amsterdam/Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins Publishing.

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Panel abstracts



Panel convenors:

  • Kyung Hye Kim (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)
  • Dang Li (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)
  • Yifan Zhu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)

Panel presenters:


The dialogue between the West and the East continues to be decisively shaped by various processes of translation, where imported knowledge interacts with local knowledge in a dynamic cycle in which both are transformed to varying degrees.

Numerous studies have examined how central concepts in East Asian philosophy such as Yin and Yang (Kim 2001), Confucianism (Rowbotham 1945; Creel 1960; Yang 1987) and Taoism (Csikszentmihalvi & Ivanhoe 1999; Gao 2014) are understood in Western countries. However, most scholars have so far either tended to focus on the reception of such concepts in the target environment or provided purely monolingual analyses of patterns of cultural exchange, while ignoring the role of language as the prime mediator of culture. More importantly, scant attention has been paid to the role of translation and that of translators as active agents in this process. In this traditional scholarly landscape, more attention has been paid to the way western thinking and knowledge are imported and transformed in Asia, ignoring thus the fact that knowledge flow is rarely unidirectional, and indeed confirming that “the West remains the ‘standard’ from which difference is measured” (Wakabayashi 2017).

This panel will attempt to explore the dissemination, contestation and transformation of concepts as they travel between Asian and Western countries, with particular emphasis on two aspects of this exchange: the flow of knowledge from Asia to the West through translation, and the way western primacy is sometimes asserted and sometimes challenged as western concepts enter the Asian world through translation. The panel thus seeks to provide an opportunity for scholars to engage critically with the flow of knowledge between Asia and the West at both macro and micro levels.


Creel, H. G. (1960) Confucius and the Chinese Way, New York: Harper and Row.

Gao, P. (2014) ‘The spreading of Laozi’s Tao in Europe’, Chinese Traditional Culture, 2.

Csikszentmihalvi, M. & Ivanhoe, P. J. (1999) Religious and Philosophical Aspects of the Laozi, Albany: State University of New York Press.

Kim, E. Y. (2001) The Yin and Yang of American Culture: A Paradox, Yarmouth: Intercultural Press.

Rowbotham, A. H. (1945) ‘The Impact of Confucianism on Seventeenth Century Europe’, The Far Eastern Quarterly, 4(3): 224–242.

Wakabayashi, J. (2017) ‘Approach to the study of travelling ideas: Lessons from translation studies, historiography and the Japanese case’. Keynote speech notes distributed at the ARTIS (Advancing Research in Translation and Intercultural Studies) event, Ajou University, South Korea, 13 January 2017.

Yang, H. (1987) The Dissemination and Influence of Confucius’ Ideas, Beijing: Education and Science Press.


Dang Li (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)

This paper sets out to investigate how the Meiji Japanese art and cultural critic Kakuzō Okakura (1862-1913) used translation as a tool to promote Eastern aesthetic and philosophical ideas among Western readers when writing The Book of Tea (1906); and how these ideas were interpreted and negotiated through processes of (re)translation when the book was rendered into Chinese (2005, 2010) almost a hundred years after its publication.

Originally written in English, The Book of Tea is a patchwork of texts quoted and translated from ancient Japanese and Chinese poems and philosophical texts. In the seven chapters that constitute the volume (‘The Cup of Humanity’, ‘The Schools of Tea’, ‘Taoism and Zennism’, ‘The Tea Room’, ‘Art Appreciation’, ‘Flowers’, and ‘Tea-Masters’), Okakura Kakuzō details all elements of the Japanese tea ceremony, and explains how its rituals – influenced by Confucian, Taoist and Zen Buddhist ideas and concepts, such as the Confucian ideal of harmony, the notion of ‘Tao’, and Laotse’s ideas about vacuum or emptiness – eventually developed into a ‘religion of aestheticism’ devoted to the worship of beauty in everyday life (Okakura Kakuzō 1906). The book contains many incomplete quotations from classical Chinese texts, fails to acknowledge some of its sources, and translates Chinese philosophical ideas and concepts freely, so that they can be appreciated from a Western aesthetic perspective. Focusing on the misquotations, omissions and adaptations featuring in Okakura Kakuzō translation of Chinese philosophical ideas and concepts, this presentation will first explore how the Japanese critic interpreted and shaped such ideas and concepts for an English-speaking readership in 1906. It will then examine the Chinese translations (2005, 2010) of The Book of Tea, in order to reveal how those ideas and concepts have been (re)interpreted and (re)shaped by the Chinese translators, and which translation strategies have been used to make the book more appealing to modern Chinese readers.


Okakura Kakuzo (1906) The Book of Tea, New York: Putnam. Available online at: https://www.tug.org/texshowcase/partofTheBookofTea.pdf] (last accessed 24/06/17).


I-Hsin Chen (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

This presentation analyzes the early English translations of Zhu Xi’s study of (理:principle’, ‘law’, ‘fate’ or ‘pattern’) by James Legge (1815-1897), Thomas McClatchie (1815-1885) and Joseph Percy Bruce (1861-1934). A central figure in Chinese history, Zhu Xi contributed to the renewal of Confucianism, the formation of science and the development of the art of statecraft in China. His study of , which combines cosmological investigation with spiritual practice, reveals significant differences between Chinese and Western worldviews and challenges Western classifications of knowledge. This paper aims to explore the extent to which the translations of by Legge, McClatchie and Bruce transformed philosophical and religious knowledge in nineteenth- and early twenty-century Europe. It will be argued that these translations demonstrate the great promise arising from and considerable difficulty involved in constructing Sino-Western dialogue; and reveal the crucial role that translation plays in questioning and re-conceptualizing knowledge as part of the process of acculturation between two or multiple traditions. Legge (1861; 1893), who translates as ‘principle’, believes that Zhu’s idea of a heavenly principle is relevant to Christian theology – while acknowledging the differences between Zhu’s study and Christianity. McClatchie (1874) translates as ‘fate’, thus characterizing Zhu’s study as alien to Christianity. Finally, by translating as ‘law’, Bruce (1922; 1923) foregrounds Zhu’s capacity to enable a more integral view of philosophy and religion. Overall, this presentation hopes to illuminate a dynamic yet hitherto under-discussed process of knowledge construction through translation across China and the West.


Bruce, J. P. (1922) The Philosophy of Human Nature by Chu Hsi, translated from the Chinese, with notes, London: Probsthain & Co.

Bruce, J. P. (1923) Chu Hsi and His Masters: An Introduction to Chu Hsi and the Sung School of Chinese philosophy, London: Probsthain & Co.

Legge, J. (1861) The Chinese Classics, Vol. I: Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, and The Doctrine of the Mean, Hong Kong: At the Author’s; London: Trübner.

Legge, J. (1893/1970) The Chinese Classics. Vol. I: Confucian Analects, The Great Learning, and The Doctrine of the Mean, 2nd edition, printed as a new edition in 1960. Reprinted in 1970. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press.

McClatchie, T. (1874) Confucian Cosmogony. A translation of section forty-nine of the “Complete Works” of the philosopher Choo-Foo-Tze with explanatory notes, Shanghai: American Presbyterian Mission Press.



Yifan Zhu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)

Kyung Hye Kim (Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China)

Although the concept of ‘individualism’ is central to modern understandings of human behaviour and society (indeed, social, political and moral philosophy stresses the importance of individual dignity, self-reliance, and liberty), scholarly work on the genealogy of ‘individualism’ (Barnes 1995, Claeys 1986, Shanahan 1992) has so far failed to trace the transformations that the meaning of this concept has undergone both within and outside Europe. This corpus-based study examines how the meaning of individualism has been redefined, re-established and reconstructed through translation in the People’s Republic of China (hereafter China) between 1910-2010.

The concept first entered East Asia through the Japanese translation ‘個人主義’ (kojin shugi) in the Meiji era (1860s-1890s), and was later introduced into China through translation at the beginning of the twentieth century. Since then, ‘个人主义’ (geren zhuyi) has been the most widely used Chinese term to designate this concept. However, this presentation will show that (i) the meaning of ‘individualism’ has been subject to constant negotiation and contestation in the political and social contexts in which it was used; and (ii) translation has played a key role in this extensive and dynamic process of meaning negotiation. For example, during China’s New Culture Movement in the 1920s and 1930s, which aimed to modernize literature and language through the translation of Western literary works, ‘individualism’ had neutral or positive connotations. However, after the founding of China in 1949, as Marxism and Communism became formally established as the prevalent ideology in the country, it became the target of bitter criticism – amid the growing body of translated Russian literature seeking to impose Marxism and communist propaganda, and undermine any opposing Western ideas. This presentation will argue that concepts and ideas are constantly renegotiated and redefined as they travel across cultures; that they are transformed as they travel through time; and that the meaning we are familiar with today is the result of a complex interplay between linguistic, sociological, cultural and ideological factors.


Barnes, B. (1995) The Elements of Social Theory, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Claeys, G. (1986) ‘‘Individualism,’ ‘Socialism,’ and ‘Social Science’: Further Notes on a Process of Conceptual Formation, 1800-1850‘, Journal of the History of Ideas 47(1): 81–93.

Shanahan, D. (1992) Toward a Genealogy of Individualism, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.


Leo Tak-hung Chan (Lingnan University, Hong Kong)

The publication of three articles on the translation of Chinese philosophical texts by Jonathan Rée, Eske Møllgaard and Wiebke Denecke in recent years has opened new perspectives on the subject. The thrust of their respective arguments can be summarized as follows. Rée is dissatisfied with the manner in which Chinese philosophical terminology has been defamiliarized in translation, in contrast to the exoticizing approach that is typically followed when translating terminology used by continental European philosophers. On the other hand, Møllgaard critiques the way in which, under the ‘philosophical turn’ in translation, Chinese concepts are reinterpreted from a Eurocentric perspective – and, in an extreme case, translated to support postmodern, deconstructionist readings. Finally, Denecke attacks the way in which the translation of Chinese philosophical terms subtends a belief in the universality of Western ideas, as translators interpret Chinese philosophical concepts via those of humanism, skepticism and mysticism. All three scholars challenge the tradition of Chinese philosophy translation over the past two centuries and draw attention to the constraints that the corpus resulting from that translation tradition imposes on translators, who are often unable to follow their personal preferences. Unlike Western sinologists/philosophers, Chinese translation theorists have come forward with new proposals to tackle this problem. These reflect the priorities of government policies on the translation of Chinese classics, and often involve the extensive deployment of native Chinese speakers in “outward translations” of philosophical works, so as to undermine the Eurocentrism in philosophical translations. Judging from recent publications on the subject in the People’s Republic of China, two strategic alternatives are viewed as viable. One involves the use of extreme literalism, in which important philosophical concepts are rendered in ‘China English’ (not to be confused with ‘Chinglish’), and the other is the use of transliteration, meant as resistance against the domestication method. Both show a desire to counter the ‘mapping’ method, whereby equivalences are sought from within the European system, in an approach that is perhaps more congenial to the translation of literary, rather than philosophical, texts. This presentation explores how Western and Chinese translators have translated several key terms (benevolence/ren, ether/qi, gentleman/junzi, five elements/wuxing) in the past twenty years; it will document the shifts from an older (sinological, familiarizing) to a newer (source-initiated, alienating) method in representing the Chinese ‘science of wisdom’ to a Western audience, and ponder on the epistemological revolution that might ensue.


Ames, R. T. & D. L. Hall (1987) Thinking through Confucius, New York: State University of New York Press.

Feng Youlan (1952/63) A History of Chinese Philosophy, Translated by D. Bodde, 2 Volumes, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Denecke, W. (2006) ‘Disciplines in Translation: From Chinese philosophy to Chinese what?’, Culture, Theory and Critique 47(1): 23-38.

Rée, J. (2001) ‘The Translation of Philosophy’, New Literary History 32(2): 223-57.

Møllgaard, E. (2005) ‘Eclipse of Reading: On the ‘Philosophical Turn’ in American Sinology’, Dao: A Journal of Comparative Philosophy 4(2): 321-340.

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Panel convenors:

Panel presenters:


This panel aims to bring together scholars to present the state-of-the-art in digital conceptual history and to discuss epistemological and methodological questions related to computational approaches to conceptual change.

The digitisation of historical material and the implementation of new computational tools have spurred the study of semantic and conceptual change. The availability of large digitised corpora of historical newspapers, for example, has broadened the scope of traditional approaches in conceptual and intellectual history. On the one hand, these corpora enable the study of conceptual change over much longer periods of time. On the other, they enrich conceptual history with views from sources, such as public media, that hitherto have been used to a much lesser extent. Above all, data-driven techniques like topic modeling or word embeddings—although certainly not without limitations of their own—have the potential to contribute to the theoretical underpinnings of what concepts are and how they change over time.


Joris van Eijnatten (Utrecht University, Netherlands)

Digital historians often claim that they are capable of tracing concepts using digital techniques. But is this, in fact, what they do in practice? Do they actually trace concepts in the more theoretical or philosophical sense of the term? Or are they tracing something less precise and less well-defined? Following discussions that go back to at least the 1950s (e.g. Gallie 1964, Kosselleck 1979, Macià 1998), we could distinguish between concepts sensu stricto and concepts sensu lato, and call the latter ‘conceptions’ rather than ‘concepts’. Conceptions denote the less precise notions commonly pursued by most historians – variously referred to as thoughts, ideas, views, beliefs, or even images, perspectives, opinions, convictions, intentions, feelings, points of view, considerations, and so on. Unlike concepts, conceptions cannot be precisely demarcated; at best they can be described on the basis of information specific to the context in which the word is used. Presumably, in most cases, concepts sensu stricto underlie conceptions, and where they do these concepts are difficult to make explicit. In technical philosophical terms, the difference between a concept and a conception could then be described as follows:

Concept_M = a mental representation of the concept M, the content of which is determined by the attribute P (e.g. ‘sovereignty as the quality of having supreme power’).

Conception_M = a representation of the attribute P that is considered to be constitutive of the concept M, where M cannot easily be identified (e.g. ‘power to the people’, which can mean multiple things, including ‘popular sovereignty’, which in turn is not the same as ‘sovereignty’).

In the context of digital humanities or digital history, a clearer distinction between concepts and conceptions is required for at least two reasons. Firstly, digital humanities often has an interdisciplinary focus. Because philosophers, linguists and historians tend to use the terms differently (cf. Kuukanen 2008; Betti and Van den Berg 2014), some measure of clarity is desirable, if only to prevent a dialogue of the deaf. Secondly, the material used by historians when applying digital methods and techniques, ranging from frequency counts and collocates to topic modelling and word embeddings, often lends itself better to a history of conceptions than conceptual history. This presentation argues that historians should perhaps reassess their claims.


Betti, A. and H. van den Berg (2014) ‘Modelling the History of Ideas’, British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22: 812-835.

Macià, J. (1998) ‘On Concepts and Conceptions’, Philosophical Issues 9: 175-185.

Gallie, W. B. (1964) Philosophy and the Historical Understanding, London, Chatto and Windus.

Koselleck, R. (ed.) (1979) Historische Semantik und Begriffsgeschichte, Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta.

Kuukkanen, J. (2008) ‘Making Sense of Conceptual Change’, History and Theory 47: 351-372.


Bryan Jurish (Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany)

Thomas Werneke (Centre for Contemporary History Potsdam, Germany)

Maret Nieländer (Georg Eckert Institute for International Textbook Research, Germany) 

This contribution presents an application of the open-source software tool DiaCollo to a recently curated historical German newspaper corpus published over the course of the ‘long nineteenth century’. DiaCollo was developed at the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften (BBAW) in close cooperation with historians to facilitate discovery, analysis, and interactive visualization of diachronic change with respect to collocation behavior in digital text corpora, and thus help to provide a clearer picture of changes in word usage.

The national-liberal German-language periodical Die Grenzboten (‘messengers from the border(s)’) – which was published from 1841 to 1922 and covered a wide range of subjects in politics, literature, and the arts – has been recently integrated in into the digital corpus infrastructure hosted by the BBAW. Its coverage of civic life, opinions, and debates surrounding the revolution of 1848, the restoration period, industrialization, the German Empire (Kaiserreich), and the First World War makes it a valuable source for a broad range of disciplines.

Two use-cases serve to demonstrate the utility of DiaCollo, as well as the corpus’ potential for further (digital) historical research. These examples derive from current research by humanists participating in the ongoing DiaCollo design and development cycle. Both examples deal with the manner in which religious affiliation and the institution of the church are discussed and utilized in political discourse and national policy in 19th-century Germany. Looking for and at debates on antisemitism and education in the corpus data, we provide research perspectives from the fields of (historical) political science and cultural history.

First, we investigate the discourses of religion in terms of antisemitic sentiments within the Grenzboten corpus. DiaCollo profiles are compared to close reading observations which suggest that Die Grenzboten took up a more pro-Jewish position during the widely received Berliner Antisemitismusstreit (‘Berlin antisemitism dispute’, 1879-1881). As Die Grenzboten was witness to several changes and attempted reforms of school systems in German-speaking territories during the course of its publication, our second use-case starts with simple DiaCollo searches on ‘education’. Pursuing the leads thus discovered, we look at the different views on the churches’ and the states’ claims of authority regarding education that emerge in the corpus. In this way, we demonstrate how DiaCollo can enable distant reading and analysis informed by a researcher’s historical background knowledge, but also inspire subsequent close reading to enrich and potentially revise existing interpretations.


Jurish, B. (2015) ‘DiaCollo: On the trail of diachronic collocations‘, in K. De Smedt (ed.) CLARIN Annual Conference 2015 (Wrocław, Poland, October 14–16 2015), 28–31. Available online at: http://www.clarin.eu/sites/default/files/book%20of%20abstracts%202015.pdf (last accessed 28/06/17).

Jurish, B., A. Geyken and T. Werneke (2016) ‘DiaCollo: Diachronen Kollokationen auf der Spur‘, in Proceedings DHd 2016: Modellierung – Vernetzung – Visualisierung, 172–175. Available online at: http://dhd2016.de/boa.pdf#page=172 (last accessed 28/06/17).

Jurish, B., C. Thomas, and F. Wiegand (2014) ‘Querying the Deutsches Textarchiv‘, in U. Kruschwitz, F. Hopfgartner and C. Gurrin (eds) Proceedings of the Workshop ‚Beyond Single-Shot Text Queries: Bridging the Gap(s) between Research Communities‘ (MindTheGap 2014), Berlin, Germany, 25–30. Available online at: http://ceur-ws.org/Vol-1131/mindthegap14_7.pdf (last accessed 28/06/17).

Werner, F. (1922) ‘Die Grenzboten: Aus der Geschichte einer achtzigjährigen Zeitschrift nationaler Bedeutung‘, Die Grenzboten Jg. 81, 448–452. Available online at: http://brema.suub.uni-bremen.de/grenzboten/periodical/titleinfo/178709 (last accessed 28/06/17).



Susan Fitzmaurice (University of Sheffield, UK)

Iona C. Hine (University of Sheffield, UK)

Seth Mehl (University of Sheffield, UK)

Over the past two years, the Linguistic DNA team has been developing a set of computational methods for mapping meaning and change-in-meaning in Early Modern English, using transcriptions from Early English Books Online (EEBO-TCP). In particular, our work relies on the hypothesis that meanings are not equivalent with words, and can be invoked in many different ways. For example, when Early Modern writers discuss processes of democracy, there is no guarantee that they will also employ a keyword such as democracy. We adopt a data-driven approach, using measures of frequency and proximity to track associations between words in texts over time. Strong patterns of co-occurrence between words allow us to build groups of words that collectively represent emergent meanings in context (textual and historical). We term this collective a discursive concept. The task of modelling discursive concepts in textual data has been absorbing and challenging, both theoretically and practically.

At the heart of the project is the question of change in relation to time, prompting questions such as: What are the most appropriate ways of measuring time in relation to concepts? For example, instead of measuring time in years or decades, can we measure time in relation to the appearance or disappearance of observed concepts? How does a concept change over time? For example, are there historical moments when democratic processes tend to be presented via the term democracy (i.e. when the concept is lexicalised), and other moments when they are presented discursively? Does such lexicalisation follow observable patterns? Can we observe patterns in the way that such concepts appear, rise in prominence, decline in prominence, or disappear over time? In this paper, we explore the problems for discerning, analysing and interpreting conceptual change in terms of time, and we explore the implications for visualising conceptual change in early modern English, in relation to various measures of time.


Pim Huijnen (Utrecht University, Netherlands)

Jaap Verheul (Utrecht University, Netherlands)

Distributional semantics is a field of study increasingly used to analyse large (historical) text corpora. So-called word embeddings, in particular, are gaining ground as a technique to study semantic shifts in texts. Underlying word embeddings are vector representations of corpora, in which each word, dependent on its relation to other words in the corpus, is represented as a multi-dimensional vector. The vector space that is thus created enables innovative approaches to corpus linguistics. Similar vectors, for example, denote semantically similar words. We have used this feature of vector spaces to build semantic networks of words as computational models of the semantic fields that humanities scholars are familiar with. Based on the popular word embedding implementation word2vec, we have created sets of chronologically arranged models to trace concepts through time without depending on particular keywords (Kenter et al. 2014).

This presentation will show how this technique can add to existing traditions in conceptual history by providing data-driven insights into semantic change. Drawing on a massive corpus of historical newspapers, the implementation of word embedding models reveals semantic shifts in public discourse, as illustrated by a number of case studies: the impact and shifting meaning of the American business idiom in the Dutch public sphere, the politicization of concepts during the Cold War era, or the practices of euphemization in depictions of the ‘Other’.

The presentation will also address some important challenges that come with the use of word embeddings to represent concepts and conceptual change for the study of history. The use of computational techniques like word2vec involves a range of practical and technical decisions. How do we legitimize these choices in terms of conceptual theory? More importantly, how can changes in vocabularies detected in historicized word2vec models be used to determine concept shift? Another problem relates to the dependency on data. Do the results of word embedding techniques provide insights into real conceptual change, or do they merely reflect arbitrary biases in the underlying data? These challenges illustrate the need for critical reflection now that advanced computational tools are adopted in historical scholarship. Based on concrete examples, we will show how we dealt with these challenges in our research.


Kenter, T., M. Wevers, P. Huijnen and M. de Rijke (2015) ‘Ad Hoc Monitoring of Vocabulary Shifts over Time’, Proceedings of the 24th ACM International Conference on Information and Knowledge Management, New York: ACM, 1191-1200.


Jose Murgatroyd Cree (University of Sheffield, UK)

The verb ‘to addict’ first appeared in English print in 1529, but did not acquire its modern meaning until several hundred years later. Instead, in early modern England it was routinely used to describe habitual forms of behaviour: early modern people were addicted to study, hunting, or poetry, rather than tobacco or alcohol. Existing scholarship has often been concerned with tracing the origins of the modern concept, and there is a tendency to ignore aspects of addiction which do not fit a progressive history. Instead, my research attempts to reconstruct an entirely early modern term, by situating addiction wholly within the linguistic and social context of early modern England. In this presentation, I show how corpus analysis tools can be used to recover the ‘subjects’ and the ‘objects’ of addiction – the people who were addicted, and the behaviours they were addicted to – using the collection of transcribed texts known as Early English Books Online (or EEBO-TCP). I briefly explore broad patterns and trends in the data, before examining one case study in more depth: the relationship between location and addiction, and what this reveals about early modern cultural stereotypes. Finally, I show that the results of this quantitative analysis can best be understood when situated within the broader historical context of sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe.


Jones, R. F. (1953) The Triumph of the English Language, London: Oxford University Press.

Knights, M. (2010) ‘Towards a Social and Cultural History of Keywords and Concepts by the Early Modern Research Group’, History of Political Thought, XXXI: 433.

Lemon, R. (2016) ‘Scholarly Addiction: Doctor Faustus and the drama of devotion’, Renaissance Quarterly, 69: 866-7.

Skinner, Q. (1988) ‘Language and Social Change’, in J. Tully (ed.) Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and his critics, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Tadmor, N. (1996) ‘The Concept of the Household-Family in Eighteenth Century England’, Past & Present 151: 111-40.


Laura V. Sández (Villanova University, USA)

This paper presents the findings of ongoing research on the presence of emotional concepts in Fidel Castro’s speeches. It focuses on the semantic field of happiness and its relation to the concept of the ‘new man’ during Cuba’s ‘special period’ (1992- 2003) – a term that designates the economic crisis sparked by the collapse of the Soviet Union and the loss of its subsidies in the early 1990s. Happiness was one of the main emotional dispositions associated with the ‘new man’ subjectivity that was conceived and promoted under the Revolution. ‘New men’ were expected to put the interest of society above that of individual gain and maintain their commitment to the Cuban regimen to ensure its viability. The concept of ‘new man’ was thus constructed as a function of moral and economic factors and presupposes an emotional response as its outcome. Predictably, the ‘new man’ concept came under severe strain during the special period, but the semantic field of happiness continued to lie at the heart of national narratives of the self as a way of reaffirming the political legitimacy of the regime – even though its spatio-temporal historical construction had changed.

This presentation draws on the premise that the conceptualization of the ‘new man’ as the product of a conjuncture of economic measures and emotional responses facilitates the study of possible convergences between ideological and emotional changes. It reports on a large diachronic study (1959-2003) that draws on the notion of ‘cycles’, as defined by economist Carmelo Mesa-Lago, to explore the interplay between socio-economic developments and emotional changes – thus pursuing a historiographical praxis in which economic processes and political events play an important role because they demand a response and innovative speech acts (Toews 1987).

Drawing on the sentiment analysis tools of LIWC and NVivo, this presentation will examine Cuba’s changing emotional norms during the 1990s through an evaluation of continuities and discontinuities in the expression of emotional concepts. Three questions guide my current research: which emotions predominate in the presentation of the self?; what is the political economy of emotion?; and what are the ideologies and formative structures of personhood? (Biess and Gross 2014). This study provides a point of entry to conceptualize the emotional normative efforts at play during the special period.


Biess, F. and D. M. Gross (2014) ‘Introduction: Emotional Returns’, in F. Biess and D. M. Gross (eds) Science and Emotions after 1945. A transatlantic perspective, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1-38.

John E. Toews (1987) ‘Intellectual History after the Linguistic Turn: The autonomy of meaning and the irreducibility of experience’, American Historical Review 92: 879-907.


Ralf Futselaar (NIOD / Erasmus University, Rotterdam, Netherlands)

Milan van Lange (NIOD / Utrecht University, Netherlands)

While the concept of ‘justice’ is near-universal across time and societies, the meanings given to the term are historically and culturally fluid. What is considered ‘just’ in one society may be profoundly unjust in another. Moreover, conceptualizations of justice can change dramatically even within the span of a single generation.

In order to study these changes in understandings of what constitutes justice, previous research has tended to focus on transformations in penal law and/or jurisprudence. When faced with more short-term changes, however, such methods are limited in terms of the insights they can provide. Therefore, this presentation aims to demonstrate how short-term changes might instead be studied through the analysis of emotional reactions within wider society to punishments imposed through the judicial system. Specifically, we will look at emotional reactions in the Dutch parliament between 1945 and 1975 to capital and prison sentences for war criminals and Nazi collaborators.

We will begin by addressing the complex and changeable views that postwar Dutch society held on what constituted a ‘just’ punishment for wartime collaborators. Next, we will discuss the emotional reactions of members of the Dutch lower and upper houses of parliament to the sentencing and eventual pardoning of these political delinquents, and examine the interplay between broader developments in society and MPs’ reactions, as expressed in parliamentary debates. Using the minutes of both houses of parliament we will select discussions about former collaborators and war criminals that were in custody or had recently been released. We will establish which emotions were likely to flare up and under which circumstances, and then compare these outcomes to discussions about penal reform for non-war-related delinquents.

The results of this exercise will enable us to map changing conceptualizations of justice in Dutch society during this short historical period and link them to specific political traditions and groups. This allows for a much more multi-faceted interpretation of these changes than is possible though the study of penal law or jurisprudence alone.

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Panel convenor: Hephzibah Israel (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Panel presenters:

What is the nature of a ‘sacred’ language? When we examine the translation of key concepts and texts across the spectrum of the so-called ‘World Religions’ we find that much of the nature of their transfer or circulation depends on certain conceptions of languages as sign systems. A minority of key languages are ascribed both ‘classical’ and ‘sacred’ status, while the majority are mostly assigned neither. The most obvious that come to mind are Arabic, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit, which at different historical points and to different degrees have been associated both with classical literature and sacred texts. This twinning of the classical and sacred informs the ontologies of these languages, elevating them to a status far above those designated mundane languages. And yet through human history, translations have continuously been undertaken from such ‘languages of the gods’ (Pollock 2006) into the languages of mortals. How can we study the transfer of sacred concepts between linguistic sign systems that have been conceptualised and deliberately maintained as immensely disparate systems? How does such a classical-sacred ontological make-up of these languages help to construct, diminish, expand, or transform sacred concepts in translation?

This panel seeks to explore the specific links between translation, knowledge construction and modes of signalling the sacred. Papers will examine the interface between script, sound, orality and textuality in the conception and the reception of the sacred in translation. It will ask: to what extent do translators rely on the ocular, the aural, the textual and oral to reconstruct key sacred concepts in new contexts?



Gil Ben-Herut (University of South Florida, USA)

This presentation will examine the role of religious tropes in the literary discourse about poetics (alaṅkāraśāstra) in classical Kannada texts. It will focus on two outstanding verses from two texts, the Kavirājamārgam (ninth century) and the Udayādityālaṅkāram (twelfth-century), where the praises of the Jina and of Śiva are invoked as literary examples for poetic devices of ornamentation (alaṅkāras). These rare and sporadic tributes to gods within larger poetic conversations illustrate the role that religious identity might have played in the cultural production of ‘secular’ knowledge about Sanskrit-based literary practices in classical Kannada.

Literary production in Kannada started in the ninth century CE with the Kavirājamārgam, a text that presented a sophisticated recasting of the pan-Indian literary idiom imbued with local aesthetic sensibilities and political interests. As described at length in Sheldon Pollock’s commanding book The Language of the Gods in the World of Man (2006), the Kavirājamārgam marked the successful beginning of at least four centuries of vibrant literary production in Kannada, which Pollock terms as the ‘cosmopolitan vernacular’. This oeuvre was mainly produced in the service of kings and courts of the Kannada-speaking region as a means of articulating regional power using an elitist and cosmopolitan idiom.

According to Pollock, the literature produced in the cosmopolitan vernacular exhibited limited interest in religious content, since the rulers who patronized courtly Kannada literature were particularly occupied with political power and had little investment in religious affiliations and metaphysical or other-worldly (alaukika) imaginaire. My presentation will further Pollock’s consideration of religious attitudes in this milieu by exploring possible ways of understanding why authors of worldly treatises did incorporate, albeit in a limited manner, the literary images of gods.


Anonymous, G. Ben-Herut, and R. V. S. Sundaram (2015) Udayādityālaṅkāraṃ: A Compendium on poetry dedicated to King Udayaditya; transliteration, English translation and notes. Mysuru: Centre of Excellence for Study of Classical Kannada, Central Institute of Indian Languages.

Nagaraj, D. R. (2003) ‘Critical Tensions in the History of Kannada Literary Culture’, in I. S. Pollock (ed.) Literary Cultures in History: Reconstructions from South Asia, Berkeley: University of California Press, 323–82.

Pollock, S. (2006) The Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, culture, and power in premodern India, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Śrīvijaya, and Ke. Kṛṣṇamūrti (1983) Kavirājamārgaṃ. Bangalore: IBH Prakshana.


Eman Alkroud (University of Manchester, UK)

This presentation explores the extent to which script choices by Berber translators of the Holy Quran mirror the political, linguistic and cultural conflict between Arab hegemony and Berber counter-hegemony in Morocco and Algeria. After gaining independence from France in the second half of the twentieth century, the two Maghreb nations set out to create their own homogeneous nation-states. As part of this process, they defined themselves as Arab, declared Arabic language as their only official language, and embarked on an Arabization campaign seeking to eliminate any form of ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity. As a result, the Berber community – which straddles both countries and represents 40% and 25% of the Moroccan and Algerian population (Maddy-Weitzman 2011), respectively – was relegated to an inferior position and marginalized. Against this background, translation, in particular the translation of the Holy Quran, became an important means of asserting the identity of the Berbers as a distinct nation. Drawing on paratext theory, as proposed by Genette (1997), and framing theory, as put forward by Goffman (1974), this presentation explores the role that script, as a significant paratextual tool, played in mediating significant historical and political knowledge about the Berber community and the North African region in the past eighteen years (1999-2017). My analysis of three Berber translations of the Holy Qur’an reveals that translators managed to signal their political stances and impact mediations of the Berber polity by deliberately encoding their translation in one (and, in one case, two) of the three scripts used in writing Tamazight, the Berbers’ language. These include Arabic script, with its inherent religious significance and socio-political association with Arab culture; Tifinagh script, which represents the ancient indigenous Berber civilization; and the Latin script associated with modernity and technology. Through the script choices they made in their translations, translators evoked mental associations linked to each script, and hence managed to move the audience through different historical epochs; align the Berber community with specific cultures; assert or reject certain claims to ethnicity; and narrate the Berber history as beginning at one specific point in time.


Genette, G. (1997) Paratexts: Threshold of Interpretation, trans. Jane Lewin, foreword by Richard Macksey, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Goffman, E. (1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience, New York: Harper and Raw.

Maddy-Weitzman, B. (2011) The Berber Identity Movement and the Challenge to North African States, The United States of America: University of Texas Press.


James Maxey (Nida School of Translation Studies, USA)

Historically, the forms of Greek played an important role in translations of the Greek New Testament (NT). Over the last half-century, however, translations of the Greek NT have focused largely on the determination and fixation of meaning, giving less consideration to the language’s form, especially sound. This binarism has been increasingly problematized in disciplinary discussions surrounding the sound of ancient Greek, its contribution to meaning, and its rhetorical effect upon audiences. This turn to sound is primarily found today in so-called liturgical translations intended to be read aloud in Christian communities. In such contexts, meaning-based translations have often been accused of sounding ‘too colloquial’ and ‘not sacred enough’. The enduring popularity of the King James Bible, for example, has much to do with how the sound of the translation matches the expectations of the listener: it sounds like Bible. The same could be said of certain translations in many other regions of the world as well, from the Reina Valera in Latin America to the Chinese Union Version in China. Such socially-constructed expectations challenge translation strategies that ignore sound. This presentation begins by outlining some of the historical developments which have influenced translations of the Greek NT, drawing relevant examples from the Latin Vulgate and the English King James Bible, before turning its focus to a case study which engages a short communication from the apostle Paul to Philemon from the perspective of Biblical Performance Criticism. The central argument is that the Greek NT is already a translation of an earlier performative communication, the result of an intersemiotic translation from performance to written text. Biblical Performance Criticism provides a framework for uncovering the performative nature and oral features still evident in the printed text which, over time, have become a challenge for written translations. The driving question in this presentation is, how can Greek word and sound plays be translated while maintaining a compatible rhetorical function that meets the sacred-sounding expectations of audiences?


Bandia, P. (ed.) (2017) Orality and Translation, London: Routledge.

Hodgson, R. and P. Soukup (eds) (1997) From One Medium to Another, Kansas City: Sheed and Ward; New York: American Bible Society.

Maxey, J. and E. Wendland (eds) (2012) Translating Scripture for Sound and Performance, Eugene, OR: Cascade Books.

Rhoads, D. (2006) ‘Performance Criticism: An emerging methodology in second testament studies’, Biblical Theology Bulletin 36(3-4).

Wendland, E. (2008) Finding and Translating the Oral-Aural Elements in Written Language, Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press.


Sameh Hanna (University of Leeds, UK)

Classical Arabic (fusha) has traditionally been imbued with ‘symbolic capital’ that guaranteed its users a higher socio-cultural status than those who do not master it. Although this has been the case in the Pre-Islamic era, the symbolic capital attached to Arabic after the advent of Islam has been augmented on new grounds. The high status of classical Arabic as the medium of Allah’s revelation is highlighted in both the Qur’an and the Hadith. God challenges non-Muslims to “produce one chapter of the Quran” (Quran 2: 23) if they can, asserting that one key evidence for the truthfulness of Islam is the linguistic inimitability of the Quran. This and other verses “put Arabic in a favoured position as the communicative medium for expressing God’s universal truths” (Suleiman 2003: 43).

The construction of ‘Islamic sacredness’ through classical Arabic has always posed a challenge for translators of the Qur’an into other languages and for translators of the Bible into Arabic. In the case of Arabic translations of the Bible, especially the Gospels, the key question that underpinned these projects is: how can a non-Islamic ‘sacredness’, with an arguably different theological world-view, be channelled through classical Arabic? While a few translators, mainly British missionaries, tried to bypass the question, opting instead for translation in colloquial Arabic, most translators of the Gospels have attempted to ‘inscribe’ their Christian sacredness onto classical Arabic. This involved negotiating some of the linguistic qualities of Arabic as used in the Quran, both in its recitation and its printed version. Using two cases of the Arabic translation of the Gospels, this paper explores the strategies used by translators in communicating Christian sacredness through the language of the Qur’an. Al-Subawi’s Al-Anajil Al-Musajja’a (The Rhyming Gospels), produced around 1300, and the more recent Al-Ma’na Al-Sahih li-Injil Al-Masih (The True Meaning of the Gospel of Christ, 2007) demonstrate the different dynamics used by Arab translators of the Gospels to maintain the ‘ontological’ status of classical Arabic as the ‘language of heaven’ and subvert, at the same time, its conventional ‘epistemological’ function as the exclusive communicative medium of Islamic theology. Through engaging with the ‘aural’ aspects of Qur’anic Arabic (in Al-Subawi’s version) and the ‘ocular’ aspects of the printed Qur’an (as in Al-Ma’na Al-Sahih), both translations demonstrate the complex processes of knowledge construction across linguistic and religious boundaries – these processes are often paradoxical in nature, involving both inscription and erasure of difference, mimicking as well as highlighting distinction.


Gatlawi, A. et al. (2007) Al-Ma’na al-Sahih li-Injil Al-Masih . Al-Mansuriyya/Al-Matn: Kitabuna lil-Nashr.

Al-Subawi, A. (1300/2007) Anajila ‘Abd Yasu’ al-Subawi al-Musajja’a, Beirut: Centre for Arab Christian Heritage.

Suleiman, Yasir (2003) The Arabic Language and Identity: A Study in Ideology, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.


Tarek Shamma (Hamad Bin Khalifa University, Qatar)

This paper examines the modern Arabic translations of the Bible (made in the second half of the nineteenth century, but still authoritative today) in the context of the emerging self- consciousness among Christian minorities of the Arab Levant. Previous translations had homogenized the Bible into the Koranic discourse, in terms of vocabulary and rhetoric. Such efforts reflected an attempt by religious minorities to play down the differences that separated them from the Muslim ruling majority, as they negotiated their problematic “dhimmi” status. But during Al Nahda (“renewal”) Period in the nineteenth century, translation took a deliberately foreignizing turn, consciously resisting integration into Koranic, and generally Islamic, idiom, thus emphasizing the uniqueness of the Biblical message. This was done in the face of criticisms (sometimes coming from Christian scholars) of clumsiness and awkwardness. Besides textual choices, visual elements also emphasized the departure with all practices of emulating the holy book of Islam. Some previous translations of the Bible (especially manuscripts) had employed artwork (especially decorative motifs and stylized verse markers) strongly reminiscent of the Koran. This practice was abandoned in the new translations, and has not been used since. Practically, the only type of artwork that has been preserved is figurative art, which is generally discouraged, if not forbidden, in Islam, and is never used with religious texts. It is argued that these methods reflected the burgeoning sense of a distinct Christian identity, spurred by contact with the West, nascent secular nationalism, and an intellectual renaissance in which Levantine Christians played leading roles. Significantly, translations came from denominations that were themselves minorities within Arab Christianity: the so-called Protestant translation came out in 1865, followed by the Catholic (Jesuit) one in 1880, which became an instant rival. There resulted something of a Bible translation war with reciprocal accusations of distorting and misrepresenting the message of God, some of which reached quite acerbic levels. While both sought to forge an independent discourse for the Bible that deliberately resisted integration into Islamic terms, the Jesuits (with a longer history in the region) emphasized a more inclusive Arab identity against the foreign influences that they claimed underlay the Protestant project. In the context of such ideological schisms, I examine the translation strategies in these projects, as shaped by contemporary debates on identity, nationalism, and modernization.

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Panel convenor: Şebnem Susam-Saraeva (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Panel presenters:

Medicine, as an ‘applied science’, has traditionally enjoyed a particularly authoritative and powerful status within society. But while fast-paced scientific discoveries and technological innovations have improved the health of vast populations worldwide, some sections of society are becoming more and more disillusioned with what they regard as rigid, unholistic or wholesale treatments offered by the medical profession, and turning to alternative approaches to health and well-being.

The emerging discipline of health humanities, with its focus on “bringing the human back into health” (International Health Humanities Network, http://www.healthhumanities.org/), postulates that knowledge and practices drawn from the arts and humanities can directly enhance health and wellbeing, rather than being utilised as tools in the training of medical professionals, as has been the case, for instance, in medical humanities. One such practice is that of storytelling, in the form of personal narratives and testimonies.

Both health and medical humanities are increasingly acknowledging the role of personal narratives and testimonies in challenging, complementing and contesting ‘abstract expert knowledge’. This panel will examine the production and dissemination of new knowledge regarding health and well-being through translations of personal narratives and testimonies in various areas (e.g. mental health, maternal and neonatal health, and cancer care), focusing on the co-creation of medical knowledge by and for lay people.


Michela Baldo (University of Hull, UK)

This presentation investigates the translations produced by and circulating among Italian transfeminist collectives concerning the concept of health and self-knowledge on body and sexuality. In these scenarios health becomes synonymous with freedom of choice on matters such as one’s own body, affective and sexual relationships and reproduction, in an attempt to overturn the asymmetrical relationship between expert knowledge and the needs expressed by LGBTQ subjectivities on these topics. The specific texts discussed are Texto Yonqui (2008) by queer activist and theorist Paul Preciado, translated as Testo Tossico [Toxic Text] (2015); and Coño Potens (2014) by Spanish post-porn activist Diana Torres, translated as Fica Potens [Powerful Cunt] (2015). The first text is a narrative about the self-injection of testosterone outside the medical-juridical protocol for sex change, while the second is a manual about female sexuality centered on the anatomy of the vagina and on female ejaculation, a topic censored and pathologized by institutional medicine for centuries.

These texts will be analyzed by looking at the translation of specific terminology related to health and sexuality, and at the functions that these translations carried in the above-mentioned specific transfeminist collectives. Texto Yonqui has been used, for example, to circulate knowledge on hormones within spaces such as “queer consultorie” [queer clinics], inspired by the feminist initiatives of self-help clinics of the ‘70s in Italy, while Fica Potens has been presented alongside DIY workshops on squirting, run by one of the translators of the text who became a performer. This presentation thus explores the performative aspect of translation (Robinson 2003), what translation does to its audience and its translators, and more specifically how translation is involved in the co-production of de-medicalized feminist knowledge on health and sexuality, invoked as a way to challenge institutional, patriarchal and heteronormative medical narratives which have marginalized or censored this knowledge.


Preciado, P. (2008) Texto Yonqi, Barcelona: Espasa libros.

Preciado, P. (2015) Testo Tossico. Sesso, droghe e biopolitiche nell’era farmacopornografica, trans. by Elena Rafanelli, Milano: Fandango.

Robinson, D. (2003) Performative Linguistics: Speaking and translating as doing things with words, New York and London: Routledge.

Torres, D. (2015) Coño Potens: Manual sobre su poder, su próstata y sus fluidos, Tafalla: Txalaparta.

Torres, D. (2015) Fica Potens. Un manuale sul suo potere, la sua prostata e i suoi fluidi, trans. by Luciana Licitra and Valentine Braconcini, Roma: Golena.


Nesrine Bessaïh (University of Ottawa, Canada)

This presentation examines Our Bodies Ourselves (OBOS, 2011) a major American reference book in sexual and reproductive health, and its ongoing translation/adaptation into French for Quebec (Canada). It focuses on the way the translation of narratives is used by a group of Canadian activists to bring intersectionality into practice, acknowledging the multi-layered and multi-faceted nature of social identities, such as race, gender, (dis)ability, ethnicity, etc.

Presenting both biomedical information and women’s narratives, OBOS has empowered many American women, contributed to the rise of a women’s health movement in the U.S.A, and has so far been translated into thirty-five languages/countries. In the English original, personal narratives contribute to the development of the readers’ critical thinking and agency (Davis 2007). By sharing personal experiences, women reclaim their knowledge about health, build a common voice and develop a critique of the biomedical model of health and body. However, to be meaningful and relevant, these narratives must interact with the reader’s cultural referents. In tune with intersectionality, the last edition of OBOS in English takes into consideration the diversity of women’s identities and this diversity is demonstrated particularly through the selection and inclusion of narratives from a much wider background. From the point of view of translation studies, it is particularly interesting to consider whether these narratives remain relevant when transferred across cultural and linguistic borders.

In Quebec, intersectionality flourishes in academia but the practice of it is rather scarce. Long time established women’s groups have trouble transforming their ways of working and integrating the most marginalized women (racialized, disabled, trans, etc.). I am part of a collective of activists currently engaged in the French translation/adaptation of OBOS. In this project, we decided to adopt an intersectional approach and are looking for ways to put it into practice. We have chosen both to translate a number of personal narratives from the source text and to collect narratives from women living in Quebec. This presentation will present the collective and will discuss the relevance of translating American narratives while at the same time collecting new narratives from Quebec. It will argue that co-construction of knowledge is an innovative adaptation strategy, especially suitable for projects like the translation of OBOS.



Anna Bogic (University of Ottawa, Canada)

Feminist approaches to knowledge production have rarely examined the role of translation in the movement of feminist knowledge. Likewise, translation studies has not paid sufficient attention to the notion of gender and the translation of feminist texts (Simon 1996, Flotow 1997). Kathy Davis’s study of global translations of the American feminist health classic Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) sets an important example of the considerable role translation can play in the ‘decentering’ of Western feminist knowledge (2007: 197-201). Published in 1971, OBOS was a product of intense feminist activism and provided women with crucial information on women’s sexuality and reproductive health. Importantly, OBOS combined adapted medical information with intimate first-person accounts. By bringing together perspectives on translation and feminism, this presentation focuses on one specific case study, the Serbian translation of Our Bodies, Ourselves, and bridges the gap in our understanding of the concrete ways in which feminist knowledge ‘moves’ through different geopolitical locations and historical time periods. I analyze the ways in which the Serbian feminist activists translated the intimate first-person accounts found in the source text. While these personal narratives travelled from a ‘Western’ country and context to an ‘Eastern’ target audience, they were at times left intact, while at others they were fully adapted. I present two examples in which the feminist activists employed adaptation techniques to render personal narratives on abortion and mistreatment by medical staff more tangible for women in Serbia. In the third example, I suggest that the Serbian feminist activists directly translated the American women’s personal narratives on gender relations, failing to provide a feminist critique of traditional gender relations in Serbia, specifically within the context of fertility control in heterosexual relationships. I conclude by arguing that translation and adaptation of women’s personal narratives in OBOS is a unique moment of knowledge production that offers opportunities to critique local health and gender practices.


Autonomous Women’s Centre (2001) Naša Tela, Mi (Our Bodies, Ourselves). Belgrade: Autonomni ženski centar.

Boston Women’s Health Book Collective (1971) Our Bodies, Ourselves, New York: Simon and Schuster.

Davis, K. (2007) The Making of ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves’: How heminism travels across borders, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Simon, S. (1996) Gender in Translation: Cultural identity and the politics of transmission, London: Routledge.

Von Flotow, L. (1997) Translation and Gender: Translating in the ‘era of feminism’, Manchester, U.K.: St. Jerome Publishers.


Boya Li (University of Ottawa, Canada)

Using comparative textual analysis, discourse analysis and oral history, I examine the Mandarin Chinese translation of the American women’s self-care classic Our Bodies, Ourselves (OBOS) through the lens of gender and reproduction politics in China in the 1990s.

The translation of OBOS not only enables feminist medical knowledge to travel across cultural borders, but also becomes a process of collective knowledge making (Davis 2007). Translated into 30 languages, the book has acted as a catalyst for feminist health movements worldwide. Notably, this process involved a substantial amount of rewriting. The focus of the book shifted from the experience of American women to problems facing women in other locations to which the book travelled. The global project of OBOS empowers women in different locations by facilitating transnational dialogues and collaborations.

The Mandarin Chinese translation of OBOS was produced in 1998. In the 1990s, Chinese health feminists faced many challenges: Chinese women were marginalized in the production of public health discourse; the gender-neutral discourse of the Maoist Era masked gender inequalities in post-liberation China; the birth planning policy introduced in 1979 had negative consequences on the lives of Chinese women and girls; and the development of a market economy made Chinese women more vulnerable to sexual objectification and exploitation (Evans 1997, Min 2017). The translated personal narratives in OBOS offer a women-centered approach to sexual health and reproduction issues in China. However, gender and health politics in China delayed the publication of the book for 5 years, as the government feared the self-organization of women outside the State’s control. When the translation was finally published, some of the original material had been removed.

This presentation examines how well the Chinese translation conveyed the feminist tone of OBOS. It suggests that while the Chinese translation of OBOS challenges the State-centered authoritative discourse on women’s health and reproduction that was dominant in China, the local politics posed various constraints on its production. These constraints affect its ability to carry on the feminist message of the original version of OBOS in a different social, cultural and political context.


Davis, K. (2007) The Making of Our Bodies, Ourselves: How Feminism Travels across Borders, Durham: Duke University Press.

Evans, H. (1997) Women and Sexuality in China: Female Sexuality and Gender Since 1949, New York: Continuum.

Min, D. (2017) Translation and Traveling Theory: Feminist Theory and Praxis in China, London and New York: Routledge.



Vicent Montalt (Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain)

Isabel García-Izquierdo (Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain)

Although doctor-centred approaches to clinical communication are still prevalent in most healthcare systems, patient-centredness (Epstein et al. 2005) is emerging as an alternative paradigm in many industrialized countries. Patient-centred care (PCC) places individual patients’ needs, backgrounds and preferences at the very heart of the doctor-patient relationship. Ultimately, it aims to empower patients to take a more active role in their interactions with health professionals and the co-management of their therapeutic process; and participate more actively in the process of shared-decision making and continuing education. PPC also entails important changes in the way knowledge is constructed and shared among and across different healthcare stakeholder communities– nurses, doctors, patients, patients’ relatives, general public, managers, policy-makers, translators, interpreters, etc.

This presentation explores how health professionals working under the new PCC paradigm view their – ideal and real – relationship with patients when there are multilingual and multicultural issues at stake, and how they create narratives that advocate, question and, in some cases, even reject patient-centred communication. Semi-structured interviews (Edwards and Holland 2013) comprising open-ended and non-directed questions were conducted in clinical settings to explore how four different health professionals (three doctors and a nurse) perceive communication and translation in their own clinical contexts. This presentation argues that these professionals’ life narratives may vary across different medical specialties and personal ethos, and are very much embedded in the clinical settings where they work. It also reports on what would appear to be divergences in these professionals’ perception of communication and translation that are worth studying further. Finally, our initial qualitative data set suggests that health professional narratives are more focused on expertise and expert systems, while their patients’ counterparts tend to be more personal.


Edwards, R. and J. Holland (2013) What is Qualitative Interviewing?, Bloomsbury: London.

Epstein, R.M. et al. (2005) ‘Measuring Patient-centered Communication in Patient-physician Consultations: Theoretical and practical issues’, Soc Sci Med 61(7): 1516-28.



Lucía Sapiña (Universitat de València, Spain)

Vicent Montalt (Universitat Jaume I, Castelló de la Plana, Spain)

Martí Domínguez (Universitat de València, Spain)

Young cancer survivors are increasingly using spaces available to them on the internet to speak up about their experiences, to negotiate their individual and collective identities, and to exchange personal knowledge that contributes to the social construction of cancer as a disease. This study examines how their cancer experience is depicted through metaphors; whether young survivors use the same metaphors as adults and medical professionals; and the extent to which metaphors used by young survivors are influenced by their different geographical and linguistic contexts.

Drawing on 128 testimonies published in different websites by Spanish and British childhood and adolescent cancer survivors, we follow a product-oriented approach to compare their narratives and identify differences and similarities between language systems (Saldanha and O’Brien 2014). The metaphors and rhetorical devices featuring in these narratives follow cultural models (Domínguez and Sapiña, 2016) or cultural scripts that define personal experiences of the illness (Smith and Watson 2010). This presentation argues that these young survivors’ cancer narratives allow fellow young patients and their medical teams to gain a deeper understanding of their experiences (Marinescu and Mitu 2016). By comparing testimonies from two countries, written in two different languages (English and Spanish), it gauges to what extent metaphors about disease vary across languages and cultures, and hence the various ways in which metaphors drive the construction of personal narratives. Ultimately, it is argued that these dimensions of narrative construction and negotiation should inform the work of translators/interpreters and health professionals working in multilingual and multicultural health settings.


Begley, A. et al. (2014) ‘Listening to Patients with Cancer: Using a literary-based research method to understand patient-focused care’, BMJ Open 4(10): e005550.

Domínguez, M. and L. Sapiña (2016) ‘Cancer Metaphors in Sport News: The match that must be won’, in P. Ordóñez-López and N. Edo-Marzá (eds) Medical Discourse in Professional, Academic and Popular Settings, Bristol: Multilingual Matters, 149-172.

Marinescu, V. and B. Mitu (2016) The Power of the Media in Health Communication, London: Routledge.

Saldanha. G. and S. O’Brien (2014) Research Methodologies in Translation Studies, London: Routledge.

Smith, S. and J. Watson (2010) A Guide for Interpreting Life Narratives. Reading autobiography, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Şebnem Susam-Saraeva (University of Edinburgh, UK)

In an era when participatory perspectives in social developments have taken on varied forms and engaged individuals avail themselves of a multitude of tools in order to ‘get things done’ in support of their individual and collective agendas, how and through which media does contemporary social and medical knowledge-making take place? From our disciplinary point of view, what role does translation play in the making and dissemination of this knowledge across linguistic and cultural borders? In order to provide some answers to these questions, this presentation focuses on the role of translated personal narratives and testimonies in the production and dissemination of knowledge within maternal and neonatal health. There is growing recognition within medical/health humanities that subjective experience can be a legitimate source of knowledge and that experiential information can complement, enhance, as well as challenge, the conventional wisdom disseminated by institutions and authorities. Birth stories are noteworthy examples of such knowledge and experience being passed on from one person to the next, one generation to the next, and one language and culture to another.

This presentation will first elaborate on the importance of examining birth stories shared online and in print among parents as resources for birth preparation, and on studying them from the perspective of narrative theory, in order to examine how personal narratives/testimonials are circulated with a view to challenge the deeply ingrained public narratives on women’s bodies and social position within a given society. It will then discuss a key text within the natural/positive birth movement: the American midwife Ina May Gaskin’s classic work Guide to Childbirth (2003, translated into Turkish in 2014), which includes 126 pages of birth stories. These are stories of births that took place at The Farm Midwifery Centre in Tennessee, U.S., in the 1970s and thus date back to a time when birth outside a hospital setting was regarded as a ‘hippy’ phenomenon in the United States. This presentation examines to what extent these stories are tailored to the tastes, expectations, experiences, and knowledge of contemporary Turkish readers some four decades later, while the ‘re-telling’ of these personal narratives in a fundamentally different context nevertheless acts as a catalyst to the ongoing debates on maternal and neonatal health in Turkey.


Gaskin, I. M. (2003) Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, New York: Bantam; 2014. İna May’ın Doğuma Hazırlık Rehberi, trans. by Zeynep Birinci Güler and Özge Altınkaya Erkök. Istanbul: Sinek Sekiz.

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Panel convenor: Karen Bennett (Universidade Nova, Lisbon, Portugal)

Panel presenters:


English is today the unrivalled vehicle for the transmission of knowledge, the language in which most scholarship is published, conferences are held, reading is done and lessons taught. However, its rise to prominence is a relatively recent development in the broad sweep of human history. From the middle of the 19th century to the middle of the 20th, English, French and German enjoyed a roughly equal status as languages of scientific publication, with others, such as Russian and Japanese, occupying niches in particular geographic areas. In the Medieval and Early Modern period, Latin was of course the lingua franca (LF) of learning, once so indispensable that it had to be mastered before any formal education could take place; and before that the prime position was held by Greek, the koiné of the Hellenistic world. Meanwhile, in the East, Arabic, Sanskrit and Chinese were also playing formidable roles in channelling learning through the centuries.

There have also been projects to develop artificial languages to serve as neutral universal vehicles of knowledge. The 17th century a priori philosophical languages of John Wilkins, George Dalgarno and Gottfried Leibniz failed to gain much traction, due to intrinsic weaknesses; but the a posteriori auxiliary languages of the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Volapük, Esperanto and Ido, fared better, acquiring considerable numbers of followers in their heyday.

This panel seeks to stimulate reflection about the role played by different vehicular languages in the transmission of knowledge over the centuries, and the philosophical, political and commercial implications of a lingua franca culture (as opposed to a translation culture). Proposals are welcome from scholars working in fields such as linguistics, translation studies, history of science/philosophy, cultural history and epistemology, as well as specialists in particular languages and cultures.


Gordin, M.D (2015) Scientific Babel: How Science was done before and after Global English. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press.

Harrison, K.D. (2007) When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World’s Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press.

Ostler, N. (2005) Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World. New York and London: HarperCollins.

Osler, N. (2011). The Last Lingua Franca: The Rise and Fall of World Languages. London and New York: Penguin.


James St André (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong)

Through a consideration of the history of Pidgin English and its reception, this study will consider the nature of language and the boundaries that define them, question the potential for any language to serve as a basis for universal knowledge transfer, and therefore raise questions about the very possibility of a ‘lingua franca’.

The earliest form of English that functioned as a lingua franca was a pidgin, forged in the various contact zones of Southeast and East Asia as the language of trade, business, and service wherever Chinese and English speakers interacted. By the mid-eighteenth century its features were already well enough established to be commented upon by British travellers, and there are still extant early-nineteenth-century Cantonese training manuals that teach Pidgin English for Chinese needing to communicate with the ‘red-haired foreigners’.

Pidgins hold a special place in the domain of language, for they are neither invented artificial languages (unlike Esperanto) nor completely based on a native-speaking population that uses it as their primary language (which distinguishes them from creoles). They can therefore be said to be both ‘natural’ and belonging to no one, which would seem to make them ideal candidates for lingua francas. Yet, although widely used for almost two centuries, Pidgin English was from its inception regarded as suspect by native English speakers for anything but commercial knowledge and business use; it was widely ridiculed in the popular press, and its limits in turn imputed to the limited intelligence of the Chinese. Contemporary discussions of the utility of Pidgin English explicitly rejected the possibility of using it as the basis for the transmission of scientific, technical, or philosophical knowledge.

Like the story of the Tower of Babel, Pidgin English becomes a cautionary tale. This spectre of a bastardized mishmash of English vocabulary and Chinese grammar haunted I. A. Richards’ attempts to forge a consciously global English lingua franca, or ‘Basic English’ in the first half of the twentieth century. In the second half of the twentieth century it haunted the imagination of Singaporean leaders intent on rooting out Singlish, while in Hollywood it makes an appearance in the post-apocalyptic language of the film Bladerunner. Pidgin English thus functions as a limit case of a language that paradoxically promises easy communication for all but at the same time forecloses any possibility of the transmission of knowledge.


Bolton, K. (2003) Chinese Englishes: A Sociolinguistic History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


Gulnaz Sibgatullina (Leiden University, Netherlands)

This paper explores the role that code-switching and translation between Arabic and Russian play in the construction of ‘sacredness’ and piety within Russia’s Muslim communities. The ethnic vernaculars spoken by Muslim minorities in Russia, such as Tatar, Uzbek and Kumyk, became languages of Islamic communication, thought, and publishing in late Imperial Russia. But following the collapse of the Soviet Union, these ethnic vernaculars experienced a gradual decline (Grenoble 2003: 193-209) and became increasingly replaced by Russian, the religious language of the Russian Orthodox Church, as the new lingua franca for Russia’s Muslims (Bustanov and Kemper 2013) – with Arabic being perceived as a sacred language used exclusively for the performance of ritual prayers.

The accommodation of Russian as an Islamic language has resulted in the emergence of two distinct variants. In Russianism, the variant commonly used by Russia’s state-appointed Islamic leaders, original Arabic and Persian Islamic terminology is fully translated into Russian. Speakers of Arabism, on the other hand, advocate the untranslatability of Qur’anic Arabic and employ an almost unlimited number of Arabic loanwords, integrating them into the morphosyntax of Russian. Speakers of this second variant usually signal the sacredness of Arabic in two ways. First, they leave Islamic vocabulary that, in their view, should be commonly known to Russia’s Muslims untranslated; and emphasize the original pronunciation of these Islamic terms, whether in written texts (by using symbols that are not part of the Cyrillic alphabet) or oral discourse (by reproducing the Arabic accent). Second, they frequently engage in Russian-Arabic code-switching; for example, standard Islamic greetings, expressions (e.g. ‘basmala’), and invocations (e.g. ‘salawat’) are used only in Arabic, while Qur’anic verses are recited in Arabic and subsequently translated into Russian. The use of Arabic in Arabism also has a performative function: the ability to speak the sacred language and recite Qur’anic verses by heart foregrounds speakers’ piety and knowledge of Islamic theology and rituals, which bestows authority on speakers within their religious community, where knowledge of Arabic is not common (cf. Marable and Aidi 2009: 177-178). Moreover, the use of Arabic without a Russian translation emphasizes the speaker’s closeness to what is perceived as the ‘correct’ and ‘authentic’ form of Islam, as opposed to Russia’s traditional Islam.


Bustanov, A. K. and M. Kemper (2013) ‘The Russian Orthodox and Islamic languages in the Russian federation’, Slavica Tergestina 15: 259-277.

Grenoble, L. A. (2003) Language Policy in the Soviet Union, Dordrecht: Springer.

Marable, M. and H. D. Aidi (eds) (2009) Black Routes to Islam, New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


Karen Bennett (Universidade Nova, Lisbon, Portugal)

In around 1579, two Jesuits, Matteo Ricci and Michele Ruggieri, published a bilingual dictionary of technical and scientific terms for use in their educational programmes in China. What is curious about this is that it involved neither Latin, the dominant lingua franca of knowledge at the time, nor Italian, those Jesuits’ mother tongue; rather it was Portuguese that formed the main interface between Europe and Chinese. This may be seen as a measure of the importance of Portuguese as a language of knowledge in the context of the Portuguese Padroado or ‘Patronage’ (a set of privileges granted by the Pope to the Portuguese crown, which gave Portugal a monopoly over missionary activities in the East).

Under the auspices of the Padroado, Jesuits from various Catholic countries would travel on Portuguese ships to Macau, from where they dispersed over the region, diffusing not only Christianity but also ‘Western learning’. We know they were obliged to learn Portuguese because this was stipulated in 1545 by Francis Xavier, leader of the Jesuit mission to Asia (Lopes 1969: 37). What is less clear, though, is exactly what role this language played in the Jesuits’ activities. Did they use it amongst themselves instead of Latin? Was it reserved for business dealings with administrative officials and merchants? Or was it also a language of instruction and a medium for the transmission of religious and scientific knowledge?

This paper reports on ongoing research designed to determine the importance of Portuguese in relation to both Latin and competing vernaculars in this domain. Drawing upon a wide range of sources – travellers’ reports, Jesuit letters and scientific texts, data from the various printing presses that were set up in the region, and information about the Portuguese College of St Paul in Macau (the first Western-style university in the Orient) – it claims that Portuguese occupied a particularly important role in the dissemination of not only religion but also Western science and technology under the Padroado. What is more, it also appears to have transmitted knowledge in the opposite direction, as geographical, cultural, linguistic and other information about the East was returned to Europe in the form of regular Jesuit (news)letters, which were then systematically translated into Latin and other vernaculars for distribution throughout the Society’s institutions and beyond. This suggests that Portuguese was not just an informal lingua franca for communication between people that do not know each other’s tongue but a crucial pivot language in the vital contacts between East and West at this particularly important moment of history.


Lopes, D. de Melo (1969/1936) A expansão da língua Portuguesa no Oriente durante os séculos XVI, XVII e XVIII, Porto, Portucalense Editora.


Annarita Taronna (University of Bari “Aldo Moro”, Italy)

Migration involves the intense circulation of peoples, goods and cultures as well as, less explicitly, hierarchical and hegemonic power relations between territories and their inhabitants. Languages, and the borders they establish, are essential to such movements and relations. But no language is innocent or neutral, because it reflects and structures our ideology and worldviews. This is particularly easy to observe when taking into consideration the use of English as a lingua franca across the Mediterranean routes where migration flows and transnational interests are leading to new models of social knowledge and new contacts between people with different linguistic and cultural heritages. Specifically, migration has strongly contributed to the acquisition and the use of English as a first, second and foreign language and to the burgeoning of new Englishes all over the world (Crystal, 1997; Jenkins, 2007; Trudgill et al., 2002) thus problematizing our traditional understanding of language as a social projection of territorial unity held together by shared behavioural norms, beliefs and values.

Against this background, this paper reports on a research project that involved conducting interviews with 12 volunteer interpreters, translators and language mediators who have worked with newly-arrived migrants in Southern Italy, and attempts to discuss how ELF mediates the knowledges that are generated and negotiated within the refugee reception centres. To this end, interview questions addressed a range of issues concerning trust, empathy, solidarity, hospitality, conflict, denial, testimony, and communitarian objectivity that are simultaneously questions of how knowledge travels, to whom it is available, and how agreement is achieved (or not) between experts and ordinary people (Secord 2004: 660-661). As a result, by re-elaborating the mediators’ testimonies, notions of language and translation emerge enmeshed in the study of knowledge production and circulation: a new deterritorialized social identity of the newly-arrived migrant takes shape and coagulates around a sentiment of belonging that can no longer be identified with a purely territorial dimension, and finds its expression in the mixed idioms of polyglottism.


Crystal, D. (1997) English as a Global Language, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, .

Jenkins, J. (2007) English as a Lingua Franca: Attitude and identity,Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Secord, J.(2004) “Knowledge in transit”, ISIS, 95(4): 654-72.

Trudgill, P. & J. Hannah (2002) International English: A guide to the varieties of Standard English, London: Arnold.


Clare Vassallo (University of Malta, Malta)

Located almost equidistantly between the North African shore close to the island of Djerba, and the Southern European island of Sicily, Malta has been at the crossroads of many major languages, of trade routes, and exchanges of various kinds since ancient times.

Its inhabitants stretch into the mists of the unwritten and unrecorded linguistic past of its Stone and Bronze Age people, architects of mathematically precise buildings that survive to this day. By the 7th century BC they were joined by Phoenician traders who also settled on the island and built, among other structures, their own temple to Melkart. Centuries later, in the 17th century, two Phoenician cippi (ornamental, truncated pillars) bearing inscriptions in Greek and an undeciphered language were discovered by the Knights of St John, the multilingual Order which was currently master of the island. One of these cippi remains in Malta, the other presented to Louis XVI by Fra Emmanuel de Rohan-Polduc in 1694 is at the Louvre in Paris. This inscription was to provide the key that unlocked the Phoenician language in the hands of Father Barthlemy in 1758. The cippus may well be the most momentous of linguistic artefacts to be discovered in Malta, which is strangely ignored by Nicholas Ostler in his chapter on trader’s languages (2010) where he discusses the spread of Phoenician and Greek in the period before Roman dominance in the Mediterranean.

This paper will focus on the linguistic history of the island which is itself an excellent testament to the ebb and flow of trade languages and lingua francas as they appeared and disappeared in the harbours and ports of Malta, leaving traces behind which formed a vernacular today recognized as the country’s national language, Maltese (Brincat 2011). A language which is a blend of Arabic, Sicilian Italian and English, with layers of influence of ideas, concepts, and shared knowledge drawn from the many languages spoken and written on the island over the centuries. These include the Semitic/Punic, Byzantine Greek, Latin when Malta was a Roman Civitas, Arabic following the invasion of Sicily and then Malta, Italian for administration under the Knights of St. John, French when Napoleon took it over, and finally English under the British Empire from 1800 to 1964.

Finally, the paper will provide a brief look at a published case study drawing attention to specific difficulties involving the concurrent use of different languages in effecting knowledge transfer in specific fields, such as training in Midwifery and Reproductive Medicine where the spoken language (Maltese) is not the language of instruction (English, Italian and in the past, Latin) (Vassallo et al. 2012).


Brincat, J. (2011) Maltese and Other Languages: A linguistic history of Malta, Malta: Midsea.

Eyanud, J., E. Cassar and C. Vassallo (2012) Translation Studies: An Anglo-Maltese scenario of reproductive health, Saarbruken: Lambert.

Ostler, N. (2010) The Last Lingua Franca: English until the return of Babel, London: Penguin.

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Panel convenor: Maeve Olohan (University of Manchester, UK)

Panel presenters:


Through the work of science studies, many scholars have come to understand science as culturally situated knowledge practices. This shift in understanding entailed a move away from thinking about science as the pursuit of universal truths and a debunking of the assumptions that science is unified and value-free. Following ground-breaking ethnographic laboratory studies in the 1980s, the notion of epistemic cultures (Knorr Cetina 1999) provided a way of exploring cultural differences across branches of science and within scientific communities.  Frameworks such as Latour’s actor-network theory and Pickering’s mangle of practice help to account for the interactions of humans and material entities, including inscriptions or texts, in the practising of science. Genre analysis and other approaches provide tools with which to analyse the discourse and rhetoric constituting scientific practice, while notions of boundary work (Gieryn 1999) are useful for thinking about how scientists and others demarcate scientific territory, and how participation in scientific cultures is legitimated, blocked or challenged.

Amid increasing interest in the movement of such knowledge practices across epistemic, linguistic and cultural boundaries (Secord 2004, Raj 2007), this panel aims to explore a range of themes that arise from conceptualising both science and translation as culturally embedded practices. Areas of focus include the cultural contingency of scientific ideas selected for investigation and communication, the discursive construction of scientific ideas, and inequalities and asymmetries in the interchange of knowledge between cultures. Contributions will foreground cultural perspectives in the study of scientific translation and the communication of scientific ideas across epistemic and linguistic cultures.


Gieryn, T. F. (1999) Cultural Boundaries of Science: Credibility on the Line, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Knorr Cetina, K. (1999) Epistemic Cultures: How the Sciences Make Knowledge, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Raj, Kapil (2007) Relocating Modern Science: Circulation and the Construction of Knowledge in South Asia and Europe, 1650-1900, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Secord, James (2004) ‘Halifax Keynote Address: Knowledge in Transit’, Isis 95 (4): 654–72.


Sofia Malamatidou (University of Birmingham, UK)

The surge of interest in scientific developments in modern societies has led to a growing circulation of popular science publications across languages and cultures. And yet, save for a few studies focusing specifically on translation (Kranich 2011, Liao 2011), little research has been carried out on the sets of discursive conventions favoured by individual linguacultures. In particular, there is a dearth of contrastive scholarship involving pairs of societies located in the centre and the periphery of popular science production. This presentation draws on the premise that peripheral societies (e.g. Greece) appropriate popular science knowledge from their central counterparts (primarily Anglophone); and that this appropriation, driven by the preferences of the peripheral society, involves the transformation of knowledge and ideas within their new environment (Gavroglu et al. 2008).

This presentation uses quantitative evidence to examine how Greek texts may (not) appropriate specific linguistic features from Anglophone popular science texts. Apart from examining whether the appropriation of knowledge and ideas across languages and cultures can be traced through an empirical analysis of specific linguistic features, it also explores the conditions affecting this process diachronically. Drawing on two diachronic (1990-2010) corpora of non-translated English and Greek popular science texts, it analyses the prevalence of active and passive voice reporting constructions through which information is presented to the public. Passives are considered to demote or delete the agent, thus promoting abstract concepts to subject status (Biber 1986). Indeed, they have been historically used as a powerful tool to replace the anthropocentric theory of knowledge with a positivist philosophy (Bennett 2007). This presentation will argue that the appropriation process, as realised through the use of active and passive voice reporting constructions, was particularly strong during the early 90s; and was affected by a number of both internal and external sociocultural factors.


Biber, D. (1986) ‘Spoken and Written Textual Dimensions in English: Resolving the contradictory findings’, Language 62(2): 384–414.

Bennett, K. (2007) ‘Epistemicide! The tale of a predatory discourse’, The Translator 13(2): 151-169.

Kranich, S. (2011) ‘To Hedge or not to Hedge: The use of epistemic modal expressions in popular science in English texts, English–German translations, and German original texts’, Text & Talk 31(1): 77–99.

Liao, M. (2011) ‘Interaction in the Genre of Popular Science’, The Translator 17(2): 349-368.

Gavroglu, K., M. Patiniotis, A. Carneiro, M. P. Diogo, A. Simões, F. Papanelopoulou, J. R. Bertomeu Sánchez, A. García Belmar and A. Nieto-Galan (2008) ‘Science and Technology in the European Periphery: Some historiografical reflections’, History of Science 46: 1–23.


Myriam Salama-Carr (University of Manchester, UK)

Growing public concern about animal welfare, notably in the context of widespread industry-led exploitation of animals and abusive breeding and slaughtering practices, is increasingly politicized and the shift of focus from the concept of animal welfare to that of animal rights, from compassion to ethics, is framed in an increasingly vocal political discourse. Described as ‘the fastest social movement’ (Gaarder 2011) animal activism can be embodied in political organizations such as the newly formed Parti animaliste in France, with similar initiatives in a number of European countries, in Turkey and in Australia, which aims to ban cruel sports such as hunting and bullfighting and to reduce the consumption of animal products. A similar shift can be observed in the move away from a perspective couched in seemingly neutral, scientific language to a more inclusive designation (for example the former ‘Office international des épizooties’ has made way for the ‘Organisation mondiale de la santé animale’) or in the development of animal welfare science (Broom 2014). Animal welfare science is itself embedded in a wider discourse of natural and social sciences which can contest specism and challenge the ambivalent ‘religious’ take on animal welfare which can promote compassion whilst legitimizing the use and exploitation of animals under the premise of the hierarchy of species and the centrality of human animals.

Given the global dimension of animal welfare issues, translation plays a significant role in constructing and disseminating a discourse of animal welfare and contributing to ‘the social construction of animals’ (Stibbe 2001). The paper will explore how, with a backdrop of greater convergence between philosophical and scientific perspectives, concepts such as sentience, welfare and rights are evolving with reference to non-human animals. Examples will be drawn from European and international institutions’ material and from activist organizations in Arabic, English and French.


Broom, D. M. (2011) ‘A History of Animal Welfare Science’, Acta Biotheoretica 59: 121-137

Fraser, D. (2008) Understanding Animal Welfare – The science in its cultural context, Wiley Blackwell.

Gaarder, E. (2001) Women and the Animal Rights Movement, New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.

Stibbe, A. (2001) ‘Language, Power and the Social Construction of Animals’, Society and Animals 9(2): 145-161.


Maeve Olohan (University of Manchester, UK)

This paper examines the cultural embeddedness of science and science communication through a case study investigating how specific scientific concepts are represented in Wikipedias in different languages.

Research in science and technology studies challenges views of science as universal and value-free, providing alternative frames for understanding the socio-cultural contingency of scientific knowledge (Sismondo 2012). Post-positivist views of (scientific) knowledge emphasize how knowledge emerges in and through practices in specific socio-cultural contexts. At the same time, public representations of scientific and technical knowledge often downplay its emergent, provisional and culturally contingent nature.

As the fifth most popular website globally (Alexa.com), Wikipedia plays a significant role as a source of information in all domains, including science and technology, for both human and AI uses. However, it can be argued that Wikipedia, through its editorial policies and its insistence that its purpose is ‘to present facts’, also downplays the contingent and provisional nature of those ‘facts’ (Wikipedia 2017). The prominence of featured snippets from Wikipedia in Google search results contributes further to users’ impressions of Wikipedia’s content as universal and incontrovertible. Yet, Wikipedia editors are likely to draw on a range of social, cultural, economic, political and legal concepts to shape readers’ understanding of scientific topics. In addition, these editorial contextualizations of scientific concepts in Wikipedia articles can be expected to vary across time and language.

This paper presents a pilot study to develop a methodology for identifying how concepts from other cultural domains (social, economic, legal, ethical, etc.) are used discursively in Wikipedia science articles to contextualize and shape Wikipedia’s scientific knowledge. The pilot study assesses the usefulness of computational techniques such as topic modelling, alongside corpus-linguistic analyses and close textual readings, for tracing the connections made by editors between scientific and non-scientific concepts in the Wikipedia science articles. Its aim is to design a method for identifying patterns or networks of concepts that can then be compared across different Wikipedia language versions. On a larger scale, these comparisons could offer valuable insights into similarities and differences in how scientific knowledge is culturally embedded and represented in Wikipedias in different languages.


Sismondo, S. (2010) An Introduction to Science and Technology Studies, 2nd edition, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Wikipedia (2017). ‘What Wikipedia is not’. Available online: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:What_Wikipedia_is_not (last accessed 26/06/17).

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Panel convenor: Alison E. Martin (University of Reading, UK)

Panel presenters: 


The history of geology (and its related sub-discipline mineralogy) has recently attracted renewed attention, as scholars of literature and history of science explore how earth history contributed to the emergence of new literary, cultural and historical discourses in eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Europe. While the scientific practitioners who produced these texts have often been the subject of in-depth studies, scant attention has been paid to the often forgotten middle-men and -women who ensured that their writing traversed national, cultural and linguistic boundaries to reach new audiences abroad.

The sociological turn in translation studies (Milton & Bandia 2009; Wolf & Fukari 2007) has called for closer attention to be paid to the ‘agents’ in the circulation of scientific knowledge: the translators who, along with editors, illustrators, publishers and critics, stimulated the international circulation of scientific knowledge in the Enlightenment and Romantic periods. Taking as its focus Anglo-European scientific exchange in the field of geology, this panel argues that by studying the role these translators played, we can uncover their rhetorical strategies for promoting scientific expertise, their networks of collaboration, the conduits they used for disseminating scientific knowledge, and how they helped shape the place of geology in the intellectual life of various European nations.


Milton, J. & P. Bandia (eds) (2009) Agents of Translation, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins.

Wolf, M. & A. Fukari (eds) (2007) Constructing a Sociology of Translation, Amsterdam & Philadelphia: Benjamins.


Alison E. Martin (University of Reading, UK)

In 1810 the influential German geologist Leopold von Buch (1774-1853) published an account of his scientific travels through Scandinavia, the Reise durch Norwegen und Lappland (Buch 1810). Heralded as a groundbreaking work on the geology of the “frigid zone”, it also gave early nineteenth-century readers key insights into the inhabitants of these inhospitable, “primitive” regions. An English version appeared three years later as the Travels through Norway and Lapland during the Years 1806, 1807 and 1808 (Buch 1813), translated by the Scottish journalist John Black and with extensive annotations by Robert Jameson, Professor of Natural History at the University of Edinburgh. The paratextual material appended was not, however, meant merely to aid comprehension. Black’s Translator’s Preface understood the Travels as a welcome update of two British works: Mary Wollstonecraft’s Letters Written During a Short Residence in Sweden, Norway and Denmark (1796) and Thomas Malthus’ seminal Essay on the Principle of Population (1803), which used data collected during his 1799 Scandinavian voyage. Jameson’s footnotes repeatedly stressed how the findings in the Travels reinforced his own conclusions about the geology of Scotland, and explicitly aligned Buch’s account with Netpunist theories propounded by the German geologist Abraham Werner, of whom Jameson was a great devotee. This paper explores both the politics of localization (Olohan 2014), which enabled Jameson to ally Buch’s Travels with British Neptunism, and the narrative performance of scientific expertise (Ericsson et al. 2006) through annotation, to probe more fully the tensions between transnational scientific knowledge-making and national, regional and individual agendas in nineteenth-century translation practice.


Buch, L. von (1810) Reise durch Norwegen und Lappland, Berlin: Nauck.

Buch, L. von (1813) Travels through Norway and Lapland during the Years 1806, 1807 and 1808, trans. John Black, London: Colburn.

Ericsson, K. A., N. Charness, P. J. Feltovich & R. R. Hoffman (eds) (2006) The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Olohan, M. (2014) “History of Science and History of Translation: Disciplinary Commensurability?”, The Translator 20(1): 9-25.


Susan Pickford (Université Paris-Sorbonne, France)

Henry de la Beche (1796-1855), the first director of the British Geological Survey, published his Geological Manual in 1831. The manual, hailed as “the first and best work of the kind”, was published on the German market as the Handbuch der Geognosie in a translation by Ernst Heinrich von Dechen the following year and as the Manuel de géologie in a French translation by André Brochant de Villiers in 1833. Both translators were professors of geology. This paper seeks to account for differences in their translatorial discourse in terms of the place of geology within the scientific field in each culture. Where the institutions of German geology were still largely influenced by Abraham Werner’s neptunism – von Dechen’s use of the Wernerian term Geognosie in the title is significant – French geologists, including Brochant de Villiers, were more broadly aligned with the plutonist school that arose in Britain with the work of James Hutton. As such, von Dechen openly espoused a deliberately interventionist strategy in his paratextual commentary on the translation, claiming to be producing a “Bearbeitung” (adaptation) of de la Beche’s work on the grounds that it was of little relevance to the continental geologist. Brochant de Villiers – while acknowledging the relevance of von Dechen’s changes and introducing some of his own – adopted the opposite strategy, claiming fidelity to the original on the grounds that the work’s main interest lay in giving French geologists insights into the latest developments in British geology. Reflecting the multidirectionality of cross-cultural transfers in the genealogy of geological knowledge, de la Beche then incorporated material from both translations into subsequent editions of his own work. The paper will track the sedimentary accretion of research between the various editions of the manual in English and in translation, in response to Maeve Olohan’s 2014 call for studies in the history of translation that offer a rapprochement with the new transnational turn in the history of science and in book history.


Brochant de Villiers, A. (1833) Manuel de géologie, Paris: Langlois et Leclerc.

de la Beche, H. (1831) Geological Manual, London: Treuttel & Würtz.

Olohan, M. (2014) ‘History of Science and History of Translation: Disciplinary Commensurability?’,  The Translator 20(1): 9-25.

von Dechen, E. H. (1832) Handbuch der Geognosie, Berlin: Duncker und Humblot.


Laura Tarkka-Robinson (University of Helsinki, Finland)

In 1775, Rudolf Erich Raspe arrived in London accused of having stolen rare coins from a collection which his former employer, the Landgrave of Hessen, had entrusted to his custodianship. In the following years, Raspe applied all his energies to re-establishing himself in a new country by means of translation, in particular by translating books on mineralogy into English. This paper will show how, as a translator of continental mineralogy, Raspe assumed the role of a gate-keeper who not only offered his English readers what he considered as proper work in this field, but who also outlined mineralogy as a ‘useful’ science, based on age-old attempts to answer the most basic needs of human society but methodized only of late by ‘active friends of knowledge.’ In this scheme, Raspe’s 1776 translations of the published travel correspondence between Johann Jacob Ferber and Ignaz Edler von Born opened up a window into a world of co-operation and interaction, in which public-spirited friends of ‘men and good sense’ were creating a new ‘latitude’ for mineralogy by collecting observations from different parts of Europe.

Significantly, Raspe’s English editions of the letters of Born and Ferber not only rephrased the actual letters with a focus on ‘the true sense’; for Raspe also added notes, indexes, and appendices, as well as largely independent prefaces, in which he took the opportunity to display his own scientific expertise. While the concept of mineralogy which these translations advocated was firmly anchored in the discourse of experimental science – famously championed by the Royal Society of London – the paper points out that Raspe’s accentuated application of the experimental idiom was an act of cultural transfer, by which he aspired to attract patriotic British sponsors for his own mineralogical work. On the one hand, Raspe explained that making an exclusive ‘mystery’ of arts and sciences was ‘selfish,’ since improving them was a great universal goal. Yet, on the other hand, he also argued that local circumstances had through the ages actually produced national specialization, which gave him occasion to claim that people of German origin – like himself – had a natural lead in mineralogy. Hence, the paper argues that Raspe’s translations were prepared in the interest of affirming his British readers’ dedication to the ‘useful’ sciences, while simultaneously demonstrating their relative ignorance of current advances in a field that seemed likely to add to their ‘envied prosperity.’

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Panel convenor: Jan Jakub Surman (University of Erfurt, Germany)

Panel presenters: 


During the Cold War period, translation facilitated the circulation of knowledge both across the Iron Curtain and within the camps on either side thereof. Within the communist bloc, for instance, translation enabled the dissemination of the work of communist intellectuals, including Western ones, across individual states and their languages. But translation also provided Russia’s satellite countries – such as the Polish People’s Republic and Czechoslovakia, and even some constitutive parts of the Soviet Union, e.g. the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic – with a certain degree of intellectual autonomy. Their respective publishing industries had some flexibility to make decisions on what to translate and, more importantly, how to do so based, to some extent, on the interests of local publishers and scholars. Significantly, while all scholarly fields were influenced by the geopolitics of the Cold War, policies on the translation of scientific knowledge were less rigid than those enforced within the Humanities, which remained under close scrutiny of the state.

In light of the role that Russian has played as a language of international scholarly communication following the establishment of the Communist regime in Russia and, in particular, since 1945, research on scientific translation during the Cold War has so far tended to focus exclusively on (American) English-Russian communication. This panel therefore aims to widen the scope of previous research on scientific translation activities during the Cold War. In addition to translations making their way across the Iron Curtain, it also examines those involving other states and languages within the former Soviet bloc. Christopher Hollings (Oxford) explores the role that the oft-vaunted universality and symbolism of mathematical language played in East-West scientific exchanges, and how they affected both the translation and the linguistic skills of mathematicians. Philipp Hofeneder (Graz) looks at the translation of scientific journals within the Socialist Camp, focusing on German-Russian flows. These translations exemplify that the idea of mutual friendship was in this case more important than ideological constraints within the Soviet bloc. Finally, Jan Surman (Erfurt) examines the translation policies of the most important scholarly publishing houses in the People’s Republic of Poland (Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe) and Czechoslovakia (Nakladatelství Ceskoslovenské Akademie ved/from 1966: Academia) to show how their monopolistic positions influenced the circulation of knowledge in these two socialist states.


Jan Jakub Surman (University of Erfurt, Germany)

In the years following the Second World War, the dynamics of scholarly publishing in Central Europe underwent significant changes. Bound by centralized Soviet guidelines, the main Socialist publishing houses were encouraged to publish translations of works from fellow socialist countries, predominantly in Russian, in order to underscore unity and cohesion within the Socialist Camp. Amid this political landscape, local publishing houses enjoyed partial freedom regarding whom to translate, and scholars working in the Soviet Union’s satellite countries strove to have the works of Western scholars translated into their languages to overcome the lack of Western publications in their libraries. Publishing houses in communist countries were thus effectively forced to find a compromise: complying with political pressures while responding to the interests of their respective scholarly communities.

This paper explores the interplay between the autonomy of national translation policies and the constraining impact of Soviet guidelines, focusing on the main scholarly publishing houses that operated in post-1945 Central Europe: Panstwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe (State Scientific Publishers, PWN) in Poland and Nakladatelství Ceskoslovenské Akademie Ved (from 1966, Academia) (Publishing House of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, NCAV) in Czechoslovakia. Established in the early 1950s, both publishers became very influential in their respective countries through the publication of prestigious translations from across the whole disciplinary spectrum, ranging from historiography to mathematics. Unsurprisingly, a comparative analysis of PWN and NCAV’s repertoires of translated scholarly literature reveals that translation policies were sensitive to political constraints. But it also shows how the scholarly publishing landscape in Central Europe evolved from the closeness of late Stalinism to the relative liberalism that emerged in the 1960s. It is further argued that the openness of satellite countries to foreign Western literature was also influenced by their local political situation, as the restrictions in Czechoslovakia after the Prague Spring of 1968 illustrate.


Philipp Hofeneder (University of Graz, Austria)

Scholars in Translation Studies (and other neighboring disciplines) specializing in former communist countries have traditionally focused on political case studies, often presenting translated texts as examples of prevailing ideological currents. In this context, questions of censorship and the manipulation of texts for ideological reasons have become particularly prominent. All too often, translation scholars have misrepresented the Soviet Union and the whole of the Socialist Camp as a homogenous bloc – thus overlooking the relatively large number of translations circulating within the Soviet Union or its former satellite states. They have also failed to understand that translation policies within the Soviet Union were far from fixed: during the 1945-1991 period, translation policies underwent fundamental changes.

This presentation examines the translation from Russian into German of texts belonging to a Soviet-specific scholarly genre situated half way between scientific papers and science popularization articles. In particular, it focuses on two different types of publications where Russian-Soviet science advances were presented in German to the former German Democratic Republic readers. Firstly, journals that published German translations of papers written in Russian (e.g. Sowjetwissenschaften: Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Deutsch-Sowjetische Freundschaft). Secondly, periodicals publishing articles on Soviet science that were written in Russian and subsequently translated into other Western European languages, including German, English and Spanish.

A comprehensive analysis of the emergence and the textual layout of these periodicals will demonstrate how the concepts of dominance and censorship, as typically applied by translation studies scholars studying the Cold War period, fail to take into account important temporal and regional factors. Unlike traditional language-centred approaches, this paper will also consider the visual aspects of these translations, for both periodicals displayed high-quality coloured illustrations and a sophisticated layout. It is argued that translations among communist countries were not exclusively determined by ideological constraints, but also by questions concerning their political and cultural relationships.


Christopher Hollings (University of Oxford, UK)  

During the years of the Cold War, concerns were often raised in the West regarding the apparent ease with which Soviet scientists were able to access Western scientific developments, in contrast to the difficulties often experienced in the opposite direction. Although physical access to published materials was often problematic, the key issue here was language: the dominant Western scientific languages of French, German and English usually posed little problem for Soviet readers, whilst Westerners had considerably greater difficulty in understanding Russian, or related languages such as Ukrainian. The launch of Sputnik I in 1957 resulted in a greater Western (particularly American) sense of urgency in engaging with the Russian language. Efforts to teach Russian to scientists met with only limited success, however, and so systematic scientific translations from Russian gradually became the principal means by which Western scientists were able to learn about Soviet research.

Opinions as to the value of such translations varied from discipline to discipline, but one area that saw particularly extensive translation efforts was mathematics. These efforts were driven in large part by a high regard in the West for Soviet mathematics, and may also owe their success to the nature of mathematical Russian. Perhaps more so than in most other disciplines, readers’ knowledge of mathematics might enable them to glean some small amount of understanding, even if they know no Russian, since the mathematical language of the latter derives largely from the same Greek and Latin roots of the other languages mentioned. Moreover, the shared mathematical heritage of Russia and the West – much of the basis of modern mathematics in Russia was derived from Western European sources – meant that a common symbolism was in use. This presentation argues that, for these reasons, mathematics enjoyed a privileged position in the communication of scientific ideas across Cold War language barriers, which may have served to emphasize the value of scientific translations more generally. It also argues, however, that the subsequent extensive use of translations of Russian mathematical materials had a significant effect on the language skills of mathematicians in both East and West.

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Panel convenor: John Ødemark (University of Oslo, Norway)

Panel presenters: 


‘Translation’ has emerged as a key word in disciplines such as history, anthropology and science and technology studies (STS). Since around 2000 it has become institutionalized in medicine as so-called knowledge translation (KT). While the turn to translation in the humanities could be seen as an index of contemporary epistemological predicaments and the almost obligatory requirement to cross disciplinary and cultural boundaries in a ‘global age’, medical translation is of a different nature. KT denotes a scientific and purportedly non-cultural practice that defines social and cultural difference as a ‘barrier’ to the transmission of medical science. In contrast, STS have celebrated the productivity of translation as the condition of possibility for science and society, and aimed to incorporate material and natural actors in the analysis of translation processes. The aim of these two connected panels is to use and challenge different disciplinary notions of translation as textual, cultural and material transfer by construing translation as a historical concept that is mobilized in a network comprising diverse textual and cultural genres. To do this we will explore a set of cases studies at the interface between medicine, the medical humanities, cultural history and anthropology.

Please note that this panel consists of two subpanels, each of them including three papers.




Eivind Engebretsen (University of Oslo, Norway)

John Ødemark (University of Oslo, Norway)

Modern medicine is confronted with cultural crossings in various forms. On the one hand, the recent wave of migration imposes a new awareness about the cultural dimensions of both physical and psychological therapy. On the other hand, religious and ideological radicalization raises new questions about how to draw the line between pathology and conviction, and how to deal with cultural and religious discontent in clinical settings. The 2014 Lancet Commission on Culture and Health pointed out that ‘the distinction between the objectivity of science and the subjectivity of culture is itself a social fact’ (2014: 1607). In line with the Lancet Commission’s stance, we maintain that there is a need for a fundamental questioning of the cultural distinction between the objectivity of science and the subjectivity of culture, the generality of the natural sciences and the singularity of the humanities. In this presentation, we first argue that medical knowledge translation (KT) is based on a simplistic view of translation and knowledge dissemination, a view that to a large extent takes translation as a phenomenon for granted. Moreover, we maintain that the practice of KT might benefit from incorporating more theoretical notions of translation as an entangled material, textual and cultural process which inevitably impacts the ‘original scientific message’. The linear conception of translation inherent in KT has motivated researchers to abandon the metaphor and replace it with notions such as ‘co-creation’ or ‘transformation’. We instead advocate that there is a theoretical and practical potential in the concept of translation that risks being lost with the introduction of a new terminology. The fact that translation has become a topos in modern science, with the ability to assemble an array of divergent approaches and practices under one name, makes it a key instrument for transdisciplinary exchange. In this situation, concepts and practices of translation have an unexploited potential for bridging the gap between medicine and social/human sciences.


Napier, D. (2014) ‘The Lancet Commission on Culture and Health’, The Lancet 384: 1607–1639. URL: http://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(14)61603-2/abstract (last accessed 29 May 2017).


Sietse Wieringa (University of Oslo, Norway / University of Oxford, UK)

Clinical guidelines (as we currently know them) are summaries of objective research findings with recommendations for practice and are intended to inform decisions by both clinicians and patients. Despite the efforts put into generating such guidelines, Gabbay and le May (2004) found in a detailed ethnographic study that clinicians in everyday practice situations did not explicitly or consciously use guidelines. Instead, they based their decisions on ‘mindlines’, i.e. collectively shared, mostly tacit knowledge that is shaped by many sources, including accumulated personal experiences, education (formal and informal) and the narratives about patients that are shared among colleagues. Mindlines challenge our basic assumptions about evidence-based knowledge translation in healthcare. They require us to re-conceptualize what knowledge is, how it develops and how it is absorbed in communities of clinical practice. They fundamentally question how findings from randomized controlled trials could or should be managed, and, even more importantly, problematize what knowledge counts as ‘valid’ and ‘meaningful’. Nonetheless, mindlines could potentially inform the development of guidelines that clinicians can and want to follow. This presentation will reflect on these issues and offer some insights based on ethnographic research in progress on guideline panels and virtual social networks of clinicians in the Netherlands, UK and Norway regarding newer understandings and (im)possibilities of knowledge management, creation and translation in clinical guideline development. This will include comparing the characteristics of knowledge in guideline panels versus the wider medical community, unpacking the many goals of guideline production with a focus on decision support, exploring alternative evasions of the problem of induction and discussing some theories of knowledge integration.


Gabbay, J. and A. le May (2004) ‘Evidence Based Guidelines or Collectively Constructed ‘Mindlines?’ Ethnographic study of knowledge management in primary care’, BMJ British Medical Journal 329(7473): 1013.


Tony Sandset (University of Oslo, Norway)

Global epidemics and global responses to them set into motion human networks that are meant to curb epidemics, help the sick and save the dying. However, in a globalized world, this often means that different ways of explaining the epidemic compete for epistemic hegemony. Such disputes are often mediated by recourse to the concept of culture and, more specifically, the premise that differences in culture will lead to differences in medical knowledge, and the ways of seeing disease and illness, body and mind. With the hegemony of ‘Western medicine’, however, it is often the case that minority perspectives on wellbeing and disease are translated and made intelligible through the hegemonic system of biomedicine. This talk will use various cases of the Ebola epidemic as entry points to examine how different conceptualizations of translation have influenced the way in which the Ebola epidemic has been understood; and the extent to which the concept of culture enables our understanding of causation, etiology and the nature of the epidemic itself.




John Ødemark (University of Oslo, Norway)

Translation studies took a cultural turn roughly at the same time that cultural history started to apply translation heuristically (Burke 2007, Lefevere 1999). Recent turns in anthropology and cultural theory have, however, denounced the concept of ‘culture’ and its ontological implications. Proponents of the so called ‘ontological turn’ and actor network theory (ANT) have questioned the concept of ‘culture’ and the whole idea of representation, often by referring to the philosophical criticism of the scheme/content dualism (Holbraad 2010). Moreover, the ontological turn has questioned the conceptual underpinnings of so-called culturalist approaches, not least the ‘multiculturalist’ assumption that there exists a plurality of cultures with divergent representations of the same natural world or ‘universal’ nature described by Western natural science. Indeed, the ontological turn and ANT represent a valid critique of practices of cultural translation that, for instance, converts literal statements about the supernatural into symbolic expressions of social and psychological forces (causal factors that ‘we’ accept as real). However, some of these approaches also appear to purify cultural investigations of the past by erasing the traces of prior translations; and the – often colonial – material and disciplinary networks that made them possible, and which post-colonial studies of translation have been deeply concerned with. A tale taken from the early modern Spanish chronicler Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo is often invoked as an example by scholars who aim to substitute ‘culture’ with ‘ontology’. While Spaniards debated whether the natives had a soul, indigenous people in the Greater Antilles drowned captives to observe whether white bodies putrefied. Thus, Europeans inquired whether others had souls, while Amerindians wondered whether Spaniards had bodies that decomposed. Viveiros de Castro (1999) and Latour (2004) have read the anecdote as an example of an encounter between Western multiculturalism and Amerindian multinaturalism (the assumption that all living beings share the same culture, but that their external natures, their bodies, differ). Through an examination of how the tale taken from Oviedo – itself already a translation of events that purportedly took place in the colonial contact zone – is inscribed as an exemplary tale of ‘radical translation’ in the theoretical literature, this presentation aims to mediate between ontological and cultural notions of translation. How does the tale function in the narrative logic of the source text? How is it informed by textual and conceptual grids from natural history (a genre concerned as much with natural bodies as with souls) – and by Oviedo’s use of Pliny as a model for his scientific authority? How is it translated into cultural theory and used as an example of deep rooted ontological difference, seemingly ‘beyond’ translation?


Burke, P. (2007) ‘Cultures of Translation in Early Modern Europe’, in P. Burke and R. Po-chia Hsia (eds) Cultural Translation in Early Modern Europe. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 7-38.

Holbraad, M. (2010) ‘Against the Motion [Ontology is just another Word for Culture]’, Critique of Anthropology 30(152): 181-82.

Latour, B (2004) ‘Whose Cosmos, Which Cosmopolitics’, Common Knowledge 10(3): 450-453.

Lefevere, A. (1999) ‘Composing the Other’, in S. Basnett and H. Trivedi (eds) Post-colonial Translation: Theory and practice, London: Routledge.

Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo (1998) ‘Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism’, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 4(3): 469-488.


Antje Flüchter (Universität Bielefeld, Germany)

The interest on the part of historical and cultural studies in hybrid or transcultural phenomena has emerged in the last decades as a consequence of the culturalist and postcolonial challenging of static and essentialized social formations (nations, religions) (Juneja 2013). But what does the process of transculturalization look like? How can we analyze it? Translation concepts seem to offer a useful tool kit to answer such questions.

Using the example of early modern Jesuit missionaries, this presentation will challenge the concept of a homogenous post-Tridentine Catholic Church and, on a methodological level, discuss the usefulness of a range of concepts proposed by translation scholars (including Venuti, Lefevere, Lotman) in the study of such processes. Evangelization can be understood as one large and multilayered process of translation (Hsia 2007, Flüchter andWirbser 2017). Missionaries translated texts in the literal sense, but also beliefs which were materialized in practices and new social forms. This translation process was not just a simple process of spreading a static, unchanged and unchanging Christianity; instead, the missionary context can be conceptualized as a third space where cultural and religious differences were negotiated and different Christianities evolved (Armstrong 2007, Ditchfield 2010, Windler 2013). The focus of this paper will be on the sacraments of Eucharist and marriage and what happened to their content and their meaning during the process of translating them in different world regions. Different conceptualizations of translation help us to understand the work of the missionaries, but are also helpful as analytical tools to evaluate the interaction between missionaries, the people they wanted to evangelize, newly Christianized and also pre-colonial actors in this specific cultural contact zone.


Armstrong, M. (2007) ‘Transatlantic Catholicism. Rethinking the nature of the catholic tradition in the Early Modern Period’, History Compass 5: 1942-66.

Ditchfield, S. (2010) ‘Decentering the Catholic Reformation: Papacy and peoples in the early modern world’, Archiv für Reformationsgeschichte 101: 186-208.

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Clemet Askheim (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences / University of Oslo, Norway)

Several authors and philosophers have been inspired by the second century Roman fable of Cura. Goethe adopts elements of it in the second part of Faust, and Herder recasts the myth in the poem Das Kind der Sorge. For both, the fable illustrates a fundamental aspect of our human condition, namely the ontological gap between life and death, body and soul. This presentation examines the genealogy of translations of the myth of Cura, which is regarded here as the source text for a range of literary adaptations, commentaries and philosophical elaborations. In Heidegger’s (1962) work, the myth is given a central place in his thinking about being and ontology, and as the defining expression of the ontological gap between earth (Tellus) and the sky (Jupiter). Human existence is both a unity of body and soul, keeping the earth and the sky together, but through our capacity for thinking and abstracting, we are also the producers of this ontological bifurcation. This metaphysical rift necessitates mediation between the two ontological domains, between body and spirit, nature and culture. And it becomes manifest in epistemology as the gap between generalized, abstract knowledge and the concrete reality of lived experience, providing also the rationale behind medical Knowledge Translation (KT), a practice that attempts to bridge this gap. But what if there was no gap in the first place? This is what Heidegger’s reading of the myth indicates. How could we make sense of such a primordially unified world? Would its existence remove the need for ontological and epistemological translation?


Heidegger, M. (1962) Being and Time, Translated by J. Macquarrie & E. Robinson from the original German text: Sein und Zeit, Oxford: Blackwell.

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