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Translating Structures/Structuring Translations

Taking as a point of departure Pierre Bourdieu’s understanding

of habitus as an attempt to bridge the gap between structure

and agency, this strand argues that translation can productively

be seen as a structure structured by such social phenomena

as language and culture or as a structure structuring, i.e.

influencing, their development. Expanding beyond the field

of Translation and Interpretation as traditionally defined,

the activities of this strand will thus explore how translation

structures are structured by its various engagements and

applications. Such an exploration is timely, as the AHRC

Translating Cultures

funded theme recognizes, in an era of ever-

increasing global connectivity, international crisis, and planetary

precarity all of which necessitate new forms of intercultural


This strand aims to foster constructive dialogue between

translators and interpreters, experts in translations studies,

and scholars making use of translation in other fields. What

can these different groups learn from each other about

translation and its study that might alter or even transform

disciplinary limitations? More broadly, what can be learnt

through comparative and interdisciplinary dialogue about how

translation functions as a travelling concept, used in more or

less metaphorical ways in a range of disciplines? Finally, in an

academic climate in which interdisciplinarity and collaboration

are both constantly being promoted, what might translation

teach us about the opportunities and pitfalls of collective work

requiring mediation across disciplinary boundaries both within

and beyond the academy?

Translating Structure/Structuring Translation is organised by Dr

Marc Schachter (School of Modern Languages and Cultures,

French), Sergey Tyulenev (School of Modern Languages and

Cultures, Translation Studies) and Binghan Zheng (School of

Modern Languages and Cultures, Translation Studies) and

co-sponsored by the IAS, the Translation Repositioned stream

of the AHRC’s Open World Research Initiative, and Durham’s

Centre for Intercultural Mediation. The strand will host three

speakers, one in each term.

In Michaelmas term, the strand will co-sponsor a talk and a

workshop with Dr Karen Emmerich, an award-winning translator

and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton

University. Dr Emmerich has translated nearly a dozen book-

length works of poetry and prose from Modern Greek to English.

In her talk, she will challenge one of the commonplaces

undergirding how we tend to think about translation, namely

that it is a process by which a source is transferred into a

derivative form in another language. Dr Emmerich will explore

how literary translations are not only structured by but also

structure originals. She will also facilitate a dialogue entitled

“Translation as Advocacy: For and Against” which will draw

on her experiences as a translator and interpreter working

with refugees in Greece to dwell on the problem of advocacy,

the discomfort of speaking for, and by extension the idea that

literature in translation always becomes about representation.

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Structuring Knowledges