Genealogies of Knowledge II

An international conference hosted by the
Centre for Translation and the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Studies,
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong

In collaboration with the Genealogies of Knowledge Project, University of Manchester, UK

7-9 April 2020

This event has been cancelled due to the volatile political situation in Hong Kong. We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this decision and trust that colleagues will appreciate the extraordinary circumstances that have obliged us to take it.


Conference Theme

This conference builds on and extends the theme of Genealogies of Knowledge I, which was held in Manchester in December 2017 and focused on the role of translation in the production and circulation of political, scientific and other key concepts in social life across time and space. Hosted by the Centre for Translation, Hong Kong Baptist University, Genealogies of Knowledge II will continue to explore how (re)translation, rewriting and other forms of mediation participate in the production and contestation of knowledge and how they renegotiate and/or transform the meaning of key concepts and values at specific historical junctures. This concluding event of the Genealogies of Knowledge project will further seek to widen the platform for enquiry into processes of knowledge construction and circulation by examining how criteria for the recognition and validation of ideas, sources of knowledge, theories and research methods have shifted across cultural spaces, within and across disciplines, and the contribution of translation to effecting such shifts.

Transnational epistemologies are thematized in this event to foreground the contribution that all actors and locations involved at every stage of the process of knowledge production and contestation make to our understanding of the world at any given moment. Examined from a transnational perspective, these epistemologies emerge as networks of interlocking concepts, ideas, debates and practices whose boundaries are not necessarily coterminous with those of national cultures, organizations, institutions, or socio-political movements – irrespective of whether the translational sites under scrutiny were formed several centuries ago or are the product of the deterritorialized exchanges that digital culture has enabled. Heightened awareness of the significance of transnational epistemologies is envisaged to further challenge traditional Euro- or Western-centric studies on the production and circulation of knowledge, and to contribute to the emancipation of subaltern, diasporic and non-institutional perspectives on knowledge, truth and validity.

Transdisciplinary epistemologies are highlighted in order to acknowledge the role that transdisciplinarity has played in the construction and circulation of knowledge over the centuries, and to gauge the contribution of different disciplinary domains to the emergence and consolidation of expert discourses. ‘Genealogizing’, understood in the Foucauldian (1972) sense, involves revealing overlooked or hidden links between what have been traditionally presented as scientific discourses separated by normativized disciplinary boundaries. We welcome contributions that engage with the impact of ‘epistemological insurrectionism’ and recent claims that ‘a transdisciplinary epistemology can account for social and political relations constitutive of dominant forms of knowledge production’ (Rimke 2010: 239).

Translational epistemologies, the theme at the heart of this event, reflects the growing use of translation by scholars in a range of scholarly domains ‘as a trope through which the local concerns of the appropriating discipline may be addressed’ (Baker and Saldanha 2011: xxi). We welcome contributions that engage with this turn to translation, which is evident across many disciplines, especially in the humanities (Ødemark and Engebretsen 2018), but also in the field of medicine – as illustrated by the increasing ubiquity of knowledge translation or translational research activities that attempt to put research-based knowledge into practice. As a specific strand of the broader process of transdisciplinarity, the emergence of translational epistemologies illustrates how taken for granted values of scientific endeavour – such as objectivity and universality – may be productively ’replaced by problematization, agonism, and contradiction in the genealogical method’ (Rimke 2010: 251).

We also welcome contributions on methodological frameworks driving research on transnational, transdisciplinary and translational epistemologies. In particular, the organizers are interested in papers using corpora, visualization tools and other resources that fall under the remit of digital humanities to explore issues of relevance to the theme of this event.

This event will provide a forum for engaging with questions that address relevant aspects of the emergence of translational, transnational and transdisciplinary epistemologies in various temporal and spatial locations. Topics of interest include but are not restricted to the following:

  • The evolution and transformation of the epistemological foundations of traditional political and scientific discourses (including sources of knowledge, research methods, standards of argumentation and proof) (i) across time and space; (ii) within and across disciplines; (iii) across West/East, hegemonic/subaltern and national/diasporic divides.
  • The rhetorical construction of lay knowledge, rationality and expertise across a range of movements, media and disciplinary boundaries through the contestation of (i) traditional scientific discourse by activist communities and independent media (post-truth era, citizen science, denialism, increased challenge to expert knowledge and ethos); (ii) the meaning of key political and cultural concepts by both radical democratic movements and far-right populist groups (e.g. ‘fake news’ rhetoric to dismiss empirically verifiable accounts of events and to supress alternative views; state-centred vs non-state models of democracy; social media and hashtag politics).
  • The role of historical and modern lingua francas, translation and interpreting in shaping epistemological changes across nations, disciplines and languages from various perspectives: (i) the evolving status of discipline-specific lingua francas and their embedded epistemologies and systems of values over time and space; (ii) the eradication of indigenous knowledges and discourses of expertise through processes of epistemicide driven by the emergence of lingua francas and translation into prestige languages; (iii) challenges to epistemological monocultures mounted by activist translation groups that aim to facilitate direct exchange of knowledge and information between local languages without the involvement of lingua francas.
  • The gate-keeping function of mainstream media, higher education systems and disciplinary traditions (within and across languages) in constraining epistemologies by (i) sanctioning what constitutes accepted knowledge; (ii) legitimizing specific arguments and debates; and (iii) restricting the meaning of specific concepts to abide by specific sets of values.
  • The implications of (i) broadening the definition of translation, traditionally conceptualized as a site of interlingual mediation, for current and future research on evolving transnational and transdisciplinary epistemologies; (ii) the turn to translation by other disciplines for the reinterpretation of established disciplinary epistemologies and the future development of translation studies.
  • New methodological approaches to the study of epistemologies, including (i) corpus-based insights into the production, circulation, and negotiation of values and concepts in past and present times; (ii) visualization tools to map and reveal changes in the historical evolution of networks of interconnected concepts; (iii) methods for tracing the epistemological implications of technological changes throughout the history of translation.

The language of the conference is English.

Please click on the links at the top of this page to find out more about abstract submission deadlines and our confirmed keynote speakers.



Foucault, Michel (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge, London: Tavistock.

Ødemark, John and Eivind Engebretsen (eds) (2018) ‘Challenging Medical Knowledge Translation: Convergence and Divergence of Translation across Epistemic and Cultural Boundaries’. Call for papers available at

Rimke, Heidi (2010) ‘Remembering the Sociological Imagination: Transdisciplinarity, the Genealogical Method, and Epistemological Politics’, International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences 5(1): 239-254.