EST Panel: Living translation as translaboration


Living Translation EST Congress 2019

9-13 September

Stellenbosch University in South Africa


Panel Convened by
Alexa Alfer, University of Westminster
Cornelia Zwischenberger, University of Graz

The concept of translation resides not only in Translation Studies but also leads an ever more active life outside of the discipline in, for example, Cultural Studies and the Social Sciences, and particularly in Organisation Studies (Czarniawska & Sevon 1996). Meanwhile, the concept of collaboration, a master concept in Organisation Studies (Gray 1989), has made significant inroads into Translation Studies as witnessed, for example, by the growing interest in new forms of online collaborative translation (e.g. Jiménez-Crespo 2017). This has resulted in increasingly lively and reciprocal cross- referencing between translation and collaboration without, however, much accompanying reflection on the disciplines and fields of practice where these two concepts function as master concepts (Zwischenberger 2018).
Translaboration, as an essentially ‘blended concept’ (Fauconnier & Turner 2002), responds to this widespread confluence of ‘translation’ and ‘collaboration’ and aims to bring these two notions, as well as the often highly heterogenous practices associated with them, “into open conceptual play with one another” (Alfer 2017: 275). Such conceptual play is, by definition, dynamic, partial, never finalised and, as such, living.
It is in this spirit that this panel will explore the collaborative dimension of ‘translation’ in both its old and new forms (from historical collectivities to crowd-translation, fansubbing, and translation hacking), as well as the translational dimension (i.e. the knowledge transfer conditions) of ‘collaboration’ conceived as a “process through which parties who see different aspects of a problem can constructively explore their differences and search for solutions that go beyond their own limited vision of what is possible.” (Gray 1989: 5).
Contributions from a range of perspectives are invited to respond to the question of how translation and collaboration intersect and bear on one another, to explore ‘translaboration’ as a category that illuminates the triad of people, processes, and products across various fields of practice, and to address the ethics of such encounters. Itself a translationally collaborative endeavour, this panel aims to engender new and multivocal discursive practices capable of cutting across disciplinary, linguistic, and cultural silos.


Alfer, Alexa (2017). “Entering the Translab: Translation as Collaboration, Collaboration as Translation, and the Third Space of ‘Translaboration’”. Translation and Translanguaging in Multilingual Contexts3(3). Special Issue: ‘Translaboration’: Translation as Collaboration, ed. by Alfer, Alexa, 275-290.
Czarniawska, Barbara & Sevón, Guje (eds.) (1996). Translating Organizational Change. Berlin/New York: Walter de Gruyter.
Fauconnier, Gilles & Turner, Mark (2002). The Way We Think: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities. New York: Basic Books.
Gray, Barbara (1989). Collaborating: Finding common ground for multiparty problems. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Jiménez-Crespo, Miguel (2017). Crowdsourcing and Online Collaborative Translations. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Zwischenberger, Cornelia (2018). “Let’s get the conceptual play started”. Workshop presentation.Translab. University of Westminster, London. May 18.