Translaboration in Analogue and Digital Practice: Labour, Power, Ethics

Edited by Cornelia Zwischenberger (University of Vienna, Austria) and Alexa Alfer (University of Westminster, UK), contracted with Frank & Timme, Berlin

Translaboration, as an essentially ‘blended concept” (Fauconnier & Turner 2002), responds to the confluence of ‘translation’ and ‘collaboration’ that is increasingly widespread not only in Translation Studies but also in a range of neighbouring disciplines. Translaboration’s central aim is to bring ‘translation’ and ‘collaboration’, as well as the often highly heterogeneous practices associated with these two notions, into dialogue with one another. This edited volume builds on exchanges first aired at our successful ‘Living Translation as Translaboration’ panel at the 2019 EST-conference at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa and will focus on the ‘translation as collaboration’ vector of the translaboration concept (cf. Alfer & Zwischenberger 2020; Zwischenberger 2020).

In Translation Studies, we can broadly distinguish two main research strands when it comes to collaborative translation: the historical perspective (e.g. Jansen & Wegener 2013; Cordingley & Frigau Manning 2017; Brown 2018) on the one hand, and the emerging field of ‘online collaborative translation’ (e.g. O’Hagan 2009; Kageura et al. 2011; Massidda 2015; Jiménez-Crespo 2017) on the other. While the former largely refers to analogue translaborations, the latter examines the interactive possibilities offered by platforms associated with Web 2.0 (O’Reilly & Battelle 2009) and has a distinctive digital framing. Where analogue collaborative translation forms the focus of attention, the aim, particularly from a historical perspective, is usually to prove translation’s inherently collaborative nature and to show that the act of translation has never been anything but collaborative. This line of argument is often pursued in conjunction with approaches from ‘genetic criticism’ (Deppman et al. 2004) and has helped establish a range of ‘Genetic Translation Studies’ projects (Cordingley & Montini 2015) that focus on the many textsand hands involved in the genesis of a translation. Research on collaborative translation in the digital sphere, meanwhile, focusses on the various forms of ‘online collaborative translation’ such as translation crowdsourcing and other non-solicited and selfmanaged online collaborative translation activities that include, for example, Wikipedia translation or the various forms of online collaborative fan translation such as fansubbing or translation hacking (O’Hagan 2009). Conducted largely via online platforms and often supported by machine translation tools, online collaborative translation is frequently executed by non-professional translators interacting with one another in virtual spaces. The fact that these translation phenomena, and the collaborations that give rise to them, fundamentally depend on digital technologies and virtual worlds is, notably, reflected in the routine conceptual privileging of the digital in the research that makes online collaborative translation its central object.

From a translaborative perspective, the prevalent analogue/digital binary that tends to dominate discussions of collaborative translation, and both intersects with and indeed accentuates other binaries such as professional/non-professional, paid/voluntary, production/ consumption etc., is not entirely helpful. With its emphasis on conceptual blending and confluent practices, translaboration offers an alternative perspective on a range of questions, which contributors to this volume will be invited to explore:

How does the analogue vs. digital framing impact on our conceptions of collaborative translation? What are the consequences of such framings for the various actors, but in particular for the translators involved? How do these framings influence concept(s) of translation as such, and thus affect disciplinary practices in Translation Studies? Does the analogue vs. digital framing entail ethical consequences given that translational collaborations in the digital world, where work often remains largely anonymous and mostly unpaid, can be exploitative? Or is the opposite the case and voluntary translators are empowered by acting in the digital space? And how should we map and interrogate power relations, struggles and hierarchies in analogue vs. digital translational collaborations, neither of which occur in a social vacuum? Who has the power to convene, or indeed to contravene, translaborations in these two worlds?

To propose a contribution on any of the above (or related) questions, please send your extended abstract (700-800 words excluding references) to both editors of the volume:

• Alexa Alfer (

• Cornelia Zwischenberger (

Deadline for proposals: 15th of December 2020

All contributors will be notified of the outcome of their submissions by 31st of January 2021. If your proposal is accepted, you will receive further instructions and information with your notification of acceptance. All accepted contributions will be double-blind peer-reviewed.

Publication schedule

  • 30 June 2021 Submission of full paper
  • July 2020 – November 2021 Internal vetting process, double-blind peer review process and subsequent revisions
  • 31 January 2022 Submission of final manuscript
  • February 2022 – April 2022 Final checks and formatting
  • Summer 2022 Publication


ALFER, Alexa & ZWISCHENBERGER, Cornelia (eds.) (2020): Special issue of Target, Volume 32, Issue 2. Translaboration. Exploring collaboration in translation and translation in collaboration. – Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

BROWN, Hilary (2018): “Rethinking agency and creativity: Translation, collaboration and gender in early modern Germany”, Translation Studies 11 (1), 84–102.

CORDINGLEY, Anthony & FRIGAU MANNING, Céline (eds.) (2017): Collaborative Translation: From the Renaissance to the Digital Age. – London: Bloomsbury.

CORDINGLEY, Anthony & MONTINI,Chiara (2015): “Genetic Translation Studies: An emerging discipline”, Linguistica Antverpiensia: New Series – Themes in Translation Studies 14, 1–18.

DEPPMAN, Jed; FERRER, Daniel & GRODEN, Michael (eds.) (2004): Genetic Criticism. Texts and Avant-textes. – Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

FAUCONNIER, Gilles & TURNER, Mark (2002): The way we think: Conceptual blending and the mind’s hidden complexities. – New York: Basic Books.

JANSEN, Hanne & WEGENER, Anne (eds.) (2013): Authorial and editorial voices in translation 1: Collaborative relationships between authors, translators and performers. – Montréal: Éditions québécoises de l’œuvre.

JIMÉNEZ-CRESPO, Miguel A. (2017): Crowdsourcing and online collaborative translations: Expanding the limits of Translation Studies. – Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

KAGEURA,Kyo; ABEKAWA, Takeshi; UTIYAMA, Masao; SAGARA, Miori & SUMITA, Eiichiro (2011): “Has translation gone online and collaborative?: An experience from Minna no Hon’yaku”, Linguistica Antverpiensia: New Series – Themes in Translation Studies 10, 47-72.

MASSIDDA, Serenella (2015): Audiovisual translation in the digital age: The Italian fansubbing phenomenon. – Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

O’HAGAN, Minako (2009): “Evolution of user-generated translation: Fansubs, translation hacking and crowdsourcing”, The Journal of Internationalization and Localization 1 (1), 94–121.

O’REILLY, Tim & BATTELLE, John (2009): “Web Squared: Web 2.0 Five Years On”. (14.09.2020).

ZWISCHENBERGER, Cornelia (2020): “Translaboration. Exploring collaboration in translation and translation in collaboration”, Target Special issue 32 (2), 173–190.