Transfers and Traversals: An Interdisciplinary Translation Studies Conference

By | March 12, 2022

In December 2022, the University of the Free State will be hosting an interdisciplinary translation studies conference, ‘Transfers | and | Traversals’, for which we are presently inviting abstracts. At this stage, we are planning for a face-to-face conference on the Bloemfontein campus of the university, but our arrangements regarding the format will remain flexible depending on the pandemic.

Conference Theme

Having long exceeded the purview of traditional translation studies, the theme of translation opens a fertile interdisciplinary space that brings into dialogue a range of disciplines in academia. In the Humanities, these include fields as diverse as philosophy, anthropology, cultural studies, comparative literature, comparative arts, adaptation studies, art history and visual culture studies. In the social sciences, sociology, law, business studies and economics can be included as fields invested in issues of translation. Likewise, in the natural sciences, mathematics, computer science, medical science and biology use the term and have an interest in translation at both conceptual and practical level. All of these disciplines use translation as a concept, category or theme in thinking about the emergence of social-cultural phenomena, practices and processes, as well as in thinking about forms of knowledge more broadly. 

An expanded category for understanding translation is also emerging from within translation studies itself where the focus is increasingly pushed beyond conventional interlingual translations to also investigate intersemiotic or multimodal translations of cultures, artefacts, practices and processes (Aguiar and Queiroz 2013, Marais 2019, Petrilli 2003). Conceptualized semiotically, in that (following Peirce) the meaning of any sign(s) is its translation into another sign(s), translation includes all meaning-making and meaning-taking actions that underlie the interaction between living organisms, generally, and human beings, specifically. Whether one studies the emergence of society-culture from the perspective of, for example, aesthetics, computer science, law or biology, you will at some point face the problem of meaning-making. This means that translation, if regarded as the process underlying the emergence of societyculture, could offer a handy gateway to inter or even transdisciplinary studies that include the humanities, the social sciences and the sciences. In addition, one finds proliferating cultural forms such as adaptations, remediations, remixes, gamifications, and transmedia story worlds that are deeply receptive to such analysis owing to their inherently ‘translational’ nature. Scholars from all fields of study moreover face questions about knowledge creation, the translation of pure knowledge into applied knowledge, translations between specialists (e.g. medicine and law), the ways in which knowledge travels, etc. Ultimately, the very nature of interdisciplinary collaboration as such is frequently conceived of in terms of ‘translations’—a probing metaconcept for thinking about the various orders of transfer and transversal that occur when disciplines operate side-by-side. 

Against this background, the organizers invite abstracts that address any of these issues—from any field of research. While this particular call originated from the Humanities, we hope to initiate discussion between as many fields of study as possible.

Possible topics could include the following: 

  • the study and critical analysis of any translations, adaptations, remediations, remixes, gamifications, transmediations, intermedialities, appropriations, and so forth, from an inter- or multidisciplinary perspective
  • epistemological, social, political, legal, ethical-moral, and/or legal aspects of (interlinguistic, intersemiotic, intercultural, intermedial, interart) translations or translational processes
  • cultural (or cross-cultural) translation, dialogue, appropriation, transfer, and migration— as conceived of within historical inquiry, postcolonial studies, critical race theory, and beyond
  • the study—whether theoretical, experimental, or performative—of relations, interactions and creative translations between arts and/or media (e.g. between music and fine art; between theatre and literature; between film and video games)
  • the translation and application of vocational knowledge, skills, practices, or ‘know-how’ (e.g. of mathematicians, medical specialists, computer scientists, engineers, architects, legal experts, theologians) within other, seemingly unrelated, societal spheres
  • questions about knowledge translation, sociology of knowledge, etc.
  • issues concerning (the concept of) translation as a facilitator of inter-, multi-, post- or transdisciplinary research, including perspectives from ecology studies
  • the productive transfer, translation, and transformation of any meta-discourse— concepts, models, theories, methods, research practices, or knowledge cultures—from one academic discipline to another. 


Timeline, Abstracts, Arrangements

Submission of abstracts: 15 April 2022

Presenters notified of outcome of review process: 1 May 2022

Registrations open: 1 August 2022

Registrations close: 15 October 2022

Conference: 1-2 December 2022

For queries or the submission of abstracts contact
E: Transfers2022@ufs.ac.za.

Please submit abstracts before 1 April 2022. Kindly include with the abstract of ca. 300 words a brief bio of 100 –150 words.

The conference is organized by the Departments of Art History and Image Studies, Communication Science, Fine Arts, Hebrew, Linguistics and Language Practice, as well as the Odeion School of Music at the University of the Free State, South Africa.

Details regarding options for accommodation etc. will be communicated closer to the event.

The organizers are investing a number of publication options, depending on interest.