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 Varlık, 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, Varlık 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) ‘Kavramların Yolculuğu: Kültür Kavramının Türkçedeki Serüvenini Çeviribilimsel Bakışla Sorgulamak’, Alman Dili ve Edebiyatı 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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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 and 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 (Boğaziçi 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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Lavinia Heller (University of Graz, Austria)


While translation studies has developed a relatively high sensibility for the linguistic and cultural boundedness of its theoretical constructions, an awareness of the problem of writing seems to be missing almost entirely. This has to do with the tacit assumption of an identity between language and script. To be sure, a script arises from communicative and mnemonic constellations, as a “secondary” medium of communication, as it were. Yet its objectivating character has a retroactive effect on the development of the language it is notating; moreover, it also forms our notion of this language and thus influences our theoretical and practical dealings with it. For, despite all differences, every kind of writing has an analytic character of its own to the extent that it structures the continual flow of language and ‘translates’ language into graphical elements. What fundamentally sets apart different writing systems is actually not so much their forms of appearance but how they relate to language and ‘segment’ it, what they objectivate and what not, and finally which units are constructed by this selection. In light of this, it only makes sense that the peculiarities of a writing system also shape our theoretical and practical handling of translation. Precisely this insight into the analytically segmenting character of writing puts the question of the translation unit into the foreground.

In my talk, I would like to use a perspective focused on writing to reconsider processes of translation in the field of philosophy, a field that not only works with but also on concepts. I will show how this perspective allows for a new understanding of the transformation of philosophical concepts by means of their translational processing. To exemplify these reflections, I will focus on different translations of Heidegger’s terminology which reveal how different translators deal with the analytic potential of alphabetic writing exploited by Heidegger. In the process, we will see how a specific translatological treatment of writing can create new conceptual connections or unsettle familiar ones. Drawing on these examples, I will then discuss what relevance a writing-based or writing-differential perspective has for a discussion in translation studies about the effects of diffusion and globalization that translation brings about in academic discourse.


Stetter, C. (1999) Schrift und Sprache, Frankfurt/Main: Suhrkamp.

Coulmas, F. (2003) Writing Systems: An Introduction to Their Linguistic Analysis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kogge, W. (2005) ‘Erschriebene Denkräume: Die Kulturtechnik Schrift in der Perspektive einer Philosophie der Praxis’ in G. Grube, W. Kogge & S. Krämer (eds) Schrift. Kulturtechnik zwischen Auge, Hand und Maschine, München: Fink Verlag, 137-169.

Elberfeld, R. (2012) Sprache und Sprachen: Eine philosophische Grundorientierung, Freiburg: Alber-Verlag.

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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 ʿAbbāsid 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 Ḥunyan/Ḥubayš’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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 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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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, Tübingen: 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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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.

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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: Kovač.

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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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 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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