Interpreting, Translation, and Gender in Conflict-affected Situations

International Conference

University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy, 24-25 October 2023

Call for Papers

This Conference aims to elicit debate on the relationship between gender, translation and conflict that reverberates across today’s war in Ukraine, as well as in other countries like Afghanistan, Syria, Palestine, just to mention a few, in the way that violence affects men and women in different ways. Men comprise the majority of combatants suffering to a greater degree from direct violence, injuries and killings in combat, whereas women suffer disproportionately from conflict in various ways, namely through systematic rape and sexual violence, greater levels of displacement and presence in refugee camps where mortality rates tend to be higher, and social and economic vulnerability, due in large part to loss of access to sources of livelihoods and to basic services (Leatherman 2011). Within these contexts, important issues emerge regarding the role of translators and interpreters who take the responsibility of facilitating and overcoming language barriers when reporting violence. In these cases, providing women with translators/interpreters of the same gender, as well as with translated information through leaflets or posters, may also help to create a supportive and trusting environment.

Starting from the resounding and inspiring contributions by Mona Baker (2006, 2010, 2014) that have extensively shaped and problematized translation as a form of (re)narration that participates in constructing the world, we intend to develop further the role of translators and interpreters as engaged narrators reporting/mediating/negotiating the gendering of violence. Our reflection also recognizes and is very much in line with the contributions by Myriam Salama-Carr (2007, 2011), Moira Inghilleri and Sue Ann Harding (2010), and Lucia Ruiz Rosendo (2021) that have widely investigated issues of mediation and neutrality, ethical involvement, and responsibility in translating and interpreting in conflict zones. Accordingly, since we are aware that academic literature tends to focus more on translation, conflict, and post-conflict reconstruction and less on the gendered dimensions and characteristics of vulnerable and fragile states and subjects, a more thorough and integrated theoretical investigation is needed. To this end, we follow in the footsteps of Sandra Ponzanesi’s work (2014) on gender and violence in situations of conflict, forced migration, trafficking and deportation, and of old as well as new colonialism that have disrupted traditional visions of language, contact, translation, belonging, nationality, and identity.

By adopting these complementary readings and interdisciplinary approaches, this Conference wants to make the connection between gender issues, translation/interpreting, and conflict more intertwined and more central to the understanding of today’s globalized and fragmented reality by giving voice to and empowering those who suffer not only from the by-products of war but are also targeted as a strategy of war. Rape and sexual violence have been recognized as instruments of war, designed to weaken families, and break down the social fabric of communities and societies.

Drawing on these urgent prompts, we want to encourage proposals that report compelling theoretical reflections and case studies on the study of gender and translation/interpreting in conflict from a variety of perspectives informed by translation studies, gender studies, political science and international relations, media studies, literary scholarship and self-reflective interpreting and translation practice and training.

Abstracts (up to 250) are invited on any aspect of the interface and interplay between gender issues, translation, and conflict and particularly (but not limited to) the following topics:

  • Gender issues, translation, interpreting and conflict: theoretical gaps, challenges, common grounds, and divergences
  • The role of translators and interpreters in war zones
  • Gender issues in cases of translator/interpreter-assisted health service provision in war zones
  • Gender bias in machine translation and AI used in conflict-related crises
  • The role of translators and interpreters as facilitators in human rights and gender protection
  • The role of translation in media coverage of gender inequality in war zones
  • Ideology and ethics in translating and interpreting in vulnerable contexts
  • Literary representations of gender issues in war zones
  • Representation, under-representation, and misrepresentation of women who are victims of gender-based violence (GBV) in conflict zones
  • Translation, feminism(s), and anti-war movements
  • Translating gender and/in war literature
  • Multimodal narratives (e.g., documentary short films; online interviews; songs and other performing arts; activist networks or non-profit organizations’ manifestos; online petitions; blog posts; etc.) on gender, translation, and conflict
Practical arrangements

Conference format: in person (University of Bari Aldo Moro)

Presentations: in the form of papers (a 20-minute presentation + a 10-minute discussion)

Official languages: presentations will be in English and Italian

Abstract evaluation: double blind and peer reviewed.

Abstracts should be sent to and as MS-Word attachments and include:

  • –  Name(s) of author(s)
  • –  Author affiliation(s) – university or institution, e-mail
  • –  Title
  • –  Abstract (up to 250 words)
  • –  3-4 keywords to identify the subject matter of your presentation

Following the Conference, presenters will be invited to contribute to a publication in English. More information will be circulated in due time.

Key dates 

Deadline for submission of abstracts: 30 June 2023 

Notification of acceptance: 15 July 2023

Proposed plenary speakers 

Silvia Antosa, Professor of English and Translation, Università per Stranieri di Siena

Federico M. Federici, Professor of Intercultural Crisis Communication, University College London

Conference Organizers 

Annarita Taronna, Rosita Belinda Maglie, Dora Renna, Matthew Groicher

Scientific Board 

Elena Basile (York University, Canada)

Lorella Bosco (Università degli Studi di Bari)

Stefano Bronzini (Università degli Studi di Bari)

Sue Ann Harding (Queen University Belfast)

Pilar Godayol (University of Vic)

Loredana Polezzi (Stony Brook University, New York)

Biancamaria Rizzardi (Università di Pisa)

Charlotte Ross (University of Birmingham)

Eva Vanmassenhove, University of Tilburg (Germany)



Baker, M. 2006. Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account. New York-London: Routledge.

Baker, M. 2010. “Narrating the world: ‘Accurate’ translations, suspicious frames.” In Translating Justice / Traducir la Justicia, edited by I.A. Araguás, J. Baigorri Jalón, and H.J.L. Campbell, 47–60. Granada: Editorial Comares.

Baker, M. 2014. “Translation as Re-narration.” In Translation: A Multidisciplinary Approach, edited by J. House, 158-77. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Inghilleri, M., and S.A. Harding, eds. 2010.  “Translation and Violent Conflict.” Special issue, The Translator 16 (2).

Leatherman, J. 2011. Sexual Violence and Armed Conflict. Cambridge: Polity.

Ponzanesi, S.  2014. Gender, Globalization and Violence: Postcolonial Conflict Zones. New York-London: Routledge.

Ruiz Rosendo, L. 2021. “Translation and Interpreting in Conflict.” In The Oxford Handbook of Translation and Social Practices, edited by M. Ji and S. Laviosa, 45-66. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Salama-Carr, M., ed. 2007. Translating and Interpreting Conflict. Amsterdam-New York: Rodopi.

Salama-Carr, M. 2011.  “Interpreters in conflict – the view from within. An interview with Louise Askew.” Translation Studies 4 (1): 103-8.

Toledano Buendía, C. 2019. “Integrating gender perspective in interpreter training: A fundamental requirement in contexts of gender violence”. In De Marco Marcella & Piero Toto (eds.) 2019. Gender Approaches in the Translation Classroom Training the Doers, 167-187. London: Palgrave Macmillan.