Call for papers - Translation in/of world politics: Language, practices, power

Place: SOAS, University of London

Date: 17-18 January 2020

N.B. This is a past event. We are no longer accepting submissions.

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Translator at work at the UN General Assembly

Keynote: Professor Helge Jordheim (University of Oslo)

Despite the recognition that the study of 'world politics' must deal with the reality of multiple worlds, the academic field of International Relations has, thus far, paid little attention to the translations that mediate encounters of (and across) these worlds. The aim of this conference is to discuss translation as an intellectual and political practice in the ‘inter’ of international relations, focusing on its political nature and as part of politics, rather than merely a technical issue of communication. It seeks to explore the transfer of political concepts and ideas from one context to another, their (non)-equivalence, the various practices of translation, role and power of the translators, and the possibilities and limits of translating/translation in world politics. 

In this vein, the organisers invite contributions dealing with (i) the sociology of knowledge and history of ideas, tracing how concepts, discourses and theories travel across contexts, time, and space, why and how they are appropriated and changed in the process; (ii) concrete political dynamics and practices of translation in world politics, such as the art of mediating in multilateral negotiations, the ability to invent new frames and concepts, as well as navigate between different political worlds as a source of power, how such skills may be used for both building trust and deception; (iii) the role and responsibility of academics in interpreting ‘the world’ and translating insights and debates to different (including non-academic) audiences. 

We welcome proposals from scholars in different academic disciplines and at any level, and we strongly encourage early-career researchers (advanced PhD students, postdocs, and junior staff) to apply. A limited number of bursaries towards travel and accommodation expenses will be available (£200 for participants from UK/Europe; £400 for participants based outside Europe) for those with limited resources. If you wish to be considered for a bursary, please provide a brief rationale for why you need a grant. Successful recipients of a bursary must be registered members of BISA by the time of the conference.