VII Lisbon Summer School for the Study of Culture

Global Translations

June 26 – July 1

2017

Translation is a concept, and a practice, at the heart of contemporary experience. The legacies of the past, along with modern-day technology and worldviews, have allowed for, indeed have invited, the coming together of multiple identities, through various languages and a plurality of cultures. Nowadays, translation inhabits the world in new and irrevocably radical ways, and any definition of globalization – hegemonic, utopian or imaginary – must involve translation.

Etymologically meaning ‘the activity of carrying across’ (Tymockzo, 1999: 20), translation may be the actual epitome of the global world, particularly if one accepts the broadest definition of ‘globalization’, i.e., that ‘“globalization” refers to the processes by which more people across large distances become connected in more and different ways’ (Lechner and Boli, 2012: 1) – a ‘global village’ needs translation, and translation is, of course, never innocent, as linguistic translation can help imposing hegemony or promoting resistance. Thus, translation, or the rejection of it, has been used as a political tool in every meeting of others, be it in the colonial past or in the post-colonial or neo-colonial present.

Translation has always meant, to a greater or smaller extent, displacement, and is never a one-way process and always involves beings as well as goods-in-transit. This translatedness of people and things, either voluntary or forced, has come to change the world, in practical as well as conceptual terms. The 21st century may well prove to be the age of migration, with millions – of people, goods, ideas, dollars – getting translated every day. These are Appadurai’s ‘objects in motion’ (2001) in ‘a world in flows’ (1996). Reinforced by long-distance technology (media, transports, etc.) and overreaching hegemonies, translation becomes a metaphor for modern-day experience, and a practical and a conceptual tool to better negotiate the world around.

To understand how cultural phenomena are affected and shaped by translation is, therefore, a task for culture studies, as the recent ‘translation turn’ may attest (Bassnett, 1990; Bachmann-Medick, 2009). This turn in culture studies testifies to the crucial impact of ‘difference’ – be it in the sense of Paul Gilroy’s convivial cosmopolitan worldview (2004) or the rather more pessimistic take of Zygmunt Bauman’s ‘liquidity’ (1998, 2011) or of Appiah’s interrogative musings (2006) – has on the imaginings of culture, on cultural performativity, on the ability to negotiate meanings, values, beliefs and practices and potentially raising what be called ‘cosmopolitan empathy’ (Beck, 2006). ‘Cosmopolitanization’ as a process which ‘comprises the development of multiple loyalties as well as the increase in the diverse transnational forms of life’ (Beck, 2006: 9) must be inhabited by translation in a radically intimate way – a translation that is both an act of love and disruption, and that begins at home with oneself. As Emily Apter put it, ‘[c]ast as an act of love, and an act of disruption, translation becomes a means of repositioning the subject in the world and in history; a means of rendering self-knowledge foreign to itself; a way of denaturalizing citizens, taking them out of the comfort zone of national space, daily ritual, and pre-given domestic arrangements’ (2006: 6). Seen as such, every form of translation begins with self-translation.
The Summer School invites proposals by doctoral students and post-docs that address, though may not be not be strictly limited to, the topics below:

• The globalization of art and art markets
• The monolingualization of economics and economic practices
• Migration as translation
• Cultural mediation and negotiation
• Fear and the absence of translation
• The invention of the ‘other’ in and through translation
• Translating ideas, methods, policies across the world
• (Un)Translatability and the rise of demotic media and politics
• (Translated) Identities in the global world
• Nationalism and the global village
• Self-translation and critical thinking in the global world
• Cosmopolitanism, cosmopolitanization, and globalization

The Summer School takes place at several cultural institutions in Lisbon and gathers outstanding doctoral students and post-doctoral researchers from around the world.

 

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