Translating Translation Studies


A symposium co-sponsored by the SISU Baker Centre for Translation & Intercultural Studies and the American Translation and Interpreting Studies Association (ATISA)

Organized by: Professor Brian Baer, Kent University State, USA

Date: Friday 23 February 2024


Venue: This event will take place virtually, via zoom, and is open to colleagues from anywhere in the world, free of charge.

Registration is required to access the event on the day. To register send a message with your name, affiliation and email address to Mona Baker. A zoom link will be provided one week before the event.


The many readers and anthologies in the field of translation studies have long privileged texts from the major western European languages. For example, Chinese texts appeared only in the fourth edition of Lawrence Venuti’s Translation Studies Reader. On the other hand, there is a need for the discipline to become more outward-looking in the context of what Bachmann-Medick has referred to as a translational turn. This workshop brings together scholars in the field of translation studies and translators of discourses on translation from traditionally under-represented languages and regions in order to discuss the challenges involved in these various forms of translation in a field already populated with western terms and concepts. The aim is to explore how such translations might change some of the ways in which we conceptualize translation theory and history.


CET = Central European Time / EST = Eastern Standard Time / CST = China Standard Time

14.00-14.10 (CET)  / 08.00-08.10 (EST) / 21.00-21.10 (CST)

Welcome and Introduction to Event

Brian James Baer, Kent State University, USA

14.10-14.50 (CET) 

Creating The Anthology of Arabic Discourse on Translation

Tarek Shamma, Binghamton University, USA

Translating historical writings on translation, pulled by necessity from varied sources and eras, places the scholar at the intersection of different disciplines, readerships and theoretical approaches. I will discuss the challenges and rewards of balancing the conflicting demands of this enterprise through my experience editing, translating and annotating the Anthology of Arabic Discourse on Translation. Published in 2022 by Routledge, the book was co-edited with Myriam Salama-Carr in collaboration with a team of translators. I will examine the three main areas where this balancing act was required. First, in selecting and analyzing the anthologized texts, one of our main aims was to relate the selected texts to modern debates on translation, but also to situate them in their contemporary contexts, thus avoiding presentism and facile identification. Furthermore, while the anthology was intended to expand the predominantly Western-dominated field of translation studies with fresh perspectives from other cultures, we were careful to avoid an exclusive concern with conceived differences that risks cultural essentialism, and more importantly, may overlook significant parallels, continuities and influences across cultural lines. Second, while the main audience for the anthology were translation scholars, students and practising translators, we also targeted several other fields, especially in Arabic and Middle Eastern studies, including cultural, social and political history, literature, religion, linguistics, Islamic philosophy and the history of science. Addressing these separate readerships meant that we had to balance the specialized (often literal) translation typically used for these highly technical texts with a more accommodating approach aimed at translation scholars with little background, or scholarly interest, in the academic fields of Middle Eastern studies. Finally, it was important for the editors to ensure that the different approaches of the contributing translators remained consistent with the goals of the anthology, while making room for their varied backgrounds, specialties and styles.

14.50-15.30 (CET)

Capturing Translation Practice(s) and Discourse(s) across Time and Space

Myriam Salama-Carr, University of Manchester. UK

Situated at the crossroads of a number of disciplines, translation studies is also underpinned by a linguistic diversity which has been brought to the fore in works aiming at a more inclusive representation of the field (see Ballard 1992, Delisle and Woodsworth 1995 and Baker 1998 as early examples). Historians of translation have unpacked some of the terminological and epistemological challenges associated with the representation of ‘other’ translation traditions (Hermans 2006; Cheung 2012, 2014; Hung and Wakabayashi 2014 amongst others) through other languages. Drawing on examples of my own historiographical research on past translation traditions l will argue that the construction of a translated anthology which spans different historical periods and reflects the continuity and ruptures of practices and writings on translation is a particular exercise in mapping a given tradition, whilst locating it within a global ‘culture of translation’.

15.30-15.40 (CET) Short Break

15.40–16.20 (CET)

Translation and the Production of Academic Knowledge in the Semi-periphery

Esperança Bielsa, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

My contribution will centre on ordinary translation practices that are widespread in the semi-periphery of the global academic field but largely covert and unacknowledged. It will discuss the findings of a collective project which empirically investigated the practices and views of academic authors and translators from the social sciences and the humanities in Spain. This study has offered a first empirical application of my recent conceptualization of the politics of translation in terms of assimilatory and reflexive translation (Bielsa 2023). The findings of the study indicate that, despite the prevalence of assimilatory translation in a highly unequal academic field, significant structural factors that facilitate extensive collaboration between academic authors and translators make possible more reflexive forms of translation that are not only fairer, but also better suited for the epistemological requirements of the social sciences and the humanities.

16.20-17.00 (CET)

Deprovincializing Translation Studies:  Engaging Theory from Latin America and the Global South

Maria Constanza Guzman, Glendon College, York University, Canada

Joshua Price, Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada

Various scholars have pointed to the vast realms of knowledge from the non-West that are ignored or under-appreciated in the West and to the impoverishment of canonical theory in Western disciplinary thinking that results in the reproduction of hegemonic ways of thinking. Translation studies can benefit from more acute attention to theory that emerges outside the Global North; it needs to recognize its provincial borders and look into translation studies’ “great unread” (Cohen and Moretti), to recognize a legacy of a “waste of knowledge” (Sousa Santos). Rather than merely bemoan this state of affairs, we would like to contribute to changing the terms of the conversation, to sketch the contours of an ethics that engages with planetary thinking without falling on intellectual extractivist and selective appropriation, and aim toward decolonizing translation, rendering it richer and less epistemically unjust.

Our presentation will centre on Latin American intellectual production in our translation-related scholarship. We will mention both ways in which we have engaged with thinkers from Latin America, and ways in which translation practice has impacted our scholarship and our academic praxis. We will discuss translating Patricia Willson, Rodolfo Kusch and other thinkers from Spanish to English, and the fact that translating has resulted not only in the obvious fruit of contributing to the circulation of non-English theory, but has also enhanced and changed the way each of us writes, theorizes and translates.  We will discuss the plurilingual basis of our work, and emphasize the importance of a situated, Latin American perspective on translation for engaging with the specificity of language and translation experiences, histories and practices in the region.

17.00-17-10 (CET) Closing Remarks


Participant Bios

Brian James Baer is Professor of Russian and Translation Studies at Kent State University. He is founding editor of the journal Translation and Interpreting Studies and co-editor of the book series Literatures, Cultures, Translation (Bloomsbury) and Translation Studies in Translation (Routledge). His publications include the monographs Translation and the Making of Modern Russian Literature and Queer Theory and Translation Studies, as well as the collected volumes Contexts, Subtexts and Pretexts: Literary Translation in Eastern Europe and Russia; Researching Translation and Interpreting (with Claudia Angelelli), Translation in Russian Contexts (with Susanna Witt), and Queering Translation, Translating the Queer,w(ith Klaus Kaindl). His most recent academic translations include Culture, Memory and History: Essays in Cultural Semiotics, by Juri Lotman, and Introduction to Translation Theory, by Andrei Fedorov. He is current president of the American Translation and Interpreting Association (ATISA). 

Esperança Bielsa is Associate Professor and ICREA Academia Fellow at the Department of Sociology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and Adjunct Professor at Shanghai International Studies University. Her research is in the areas of cultural sociology, social theory, translation, globalization and cosmopolitanism. Her most recent books are Benjamin y la traducción (2024, with A. Aguilera), A Translational Sociology (2023), and The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Media (2022, ed.). She is editor of the Routledge book series Translation, Politics and Society.

María Constanza Guzmán is professor in the Department of Hispanic Studies at York University, Canada, where she is affiliated with the graduate programmes in Translation Studies and in Humanities. She holds a PhD. in Comparative Literature from the State University of New York, an MA in Translation from Kent State University, and a BA in languages from Universidad Nacional de Colombia. Her main scholarly interests are translation studies and Latin American literature. Her publications include Gregory Rabassa’s Latin American Literature: A Translator’s Visible Legacy and the translation (with Joshua Price) of the novel Heidegger’s ShadowHer latest publications are the co-edited volume Negotiating Linguistic Plurality: Translation and Multilingualism in Canada and Beyond (Co-edited with Şehnaz Tahir Gürçağlar, McGill-Queen’s University Press 2022) and Mapping Spaces of Translation in Twentieth-Century Latin American Print Culture (Routledge 2020)She currently holds a SSHRC Insight grant for the project ‘Translators’ Archives: Voicing Cultural Agency in Print Culture in the Americas’ (2022-2027).

Joshua Martin Price is an anthropologist and Professor at Toronto Metropolitan University, Canada. He has written three books on language and violence, his most recent being Translation and Epistemicide: Racialization of Language in the Americas. He has also collaborated on the translation of two books of Latin American philosophy, Heidegger´s Shadow by José Pablo Feinmann (with María Constanza Guzmán; Texas Tech 2016) and Indigenous and Popular Thinking in América by Rodolfo Kusch (with María Lugones; Duke 2010). His writing on translation, colonization and translation theory has been published in Target,Translation Perspectives, TTR, and Mutatis Mutandis.

Myriam Salama-Carr is Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Manchester, Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies. She has published extensively in the field of translation studies and her research focuses on the history of translation, with particular focus on the ideological aspects of the translation of science and the transmission and construction of knowledge. Her more recent publications include The Anthology of Arabic Discourse on Translation (Routledge, 2021, in collaboration with Tarek Shamma) and ‘L’École de Bagdad. Pierre angulaire d’une tradition donnée et élément constitutif d’une historiographie universelle de la traduction’, in Démythifier la traductologie, a special issue of Équivalences 47 (1-2), 2020, and ‘Negotiating Asymmetry : The Language of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare’ (2021). Her research on the discourse of animal rights and welfare draws on her interest in the translation of science and its ideological dimension.  She was the Director of the National Network for Translation from 2007 to 2017, and Chair of the Training Committee of IATIS from 2011 to 2016.

Tarek Shamma is Professor in Translation and Comparative Literature and Director of the Translation Research and Instruction Program, Binghamton University, NY. He has taught at universities in Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and the United States. He is the author of Translation and the Manipulation of Difference: Arabic Literature in Nineteenth Century England (St. Jerome), and, most recently, Anthology of Arabic Discourse on Translation (Routledge, 2022).