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Translation, Renarration and Conflict

by Professor Mona Baker, Professor Emeritus of Translation Studies, University of Manchester, United Kingdom and Visiting Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University

Date                  30 March 2016
Time                 4:30pm-6:00pm
Venue               AG710
The talk will be conducted in English.


Public narratives of terrorism and security now pervade our lives and are elaborated by a range of influential institutions, including some that present themselves as non-partisan and apolitical, these institutions have a vested interest in portraying certain communities as inherently terrorist and extremist, and do so largely by making a range of carefully selected translations available to audience around the world, especially politicians and the media. Narrative theory allows us to make sense of their entire programmes of translation as well as individual choices at test level. More specifically, in the context of a series of violent conflicts over territory and resources that are being widely emplotted as a religious war waged by irrational fanatics against innocent and peace-loving nations, narrative theory enables us to elaborate a robust description of the processes involved in effecting such representations, as well as resistance to them. These processes rely on extensive acts of translation at almost every point of interaction.

Using concrete examples of framing strategies adopted and translations circulated by both political lobbies and activists, this presentation will attempt to demonstrate that far from being an innocent practice that functions as an appendix to original source texts, translation is imbricated in an ongoing process of (re)constructing the world and is itself a site of conflict, a space within which competing narratives are elaborated and contested.

About the speaker

Mona Baker is Professor Emeritus of Translation Studies at the University of Manchester, UK and currently Visiting Professor, Hong Kong Baptist University. She is author of In Other Words (1992/2011) and Translation and Conflict (2006), Editor of Translating Dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian Revolution (2016), Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (1998/2001/2009); Critical Concepts: Translation Studies (2009); Critical Readings in Translation Studies (2010); and co-editor of Citizen Media and Public Spaces: Diverse Expressions of Citizenship and Dissent (in press). Her articles have appeared in a wide range of international journals, including Social Movement Studies, Critical Studies on Terrorism and The Translator. Professor Mona Baker et al have been elected by the readers of inttranews as their “Linguists of the Year” for 2016, for “Translating Dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian Revolution”.

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