Seminar: Şebnem Susam-Saraeva

Translated birth stories: Listening to the voices of women who birthed elsewhere

University of Glasgow

14 November 2016

The talk will first delineate the outlines of a project-in-progress on the role of translation in social knowledge-making by focusing on a particular social movement which challenges, as well as builds upon, mainstream medical discourse: natural/positive birth movement. The project’s objectives are to understand how informational flows in global movements intersect with translation and other inter-lingual activities; how lay people make sense of and relate to contemporary medical research globally and through translation; how the imported knowledge is shaped by and firmly embedded within local cultural and social contexts, and whether and how it contributes to paradigmatic shifts within a society.

The talk will then focus on a particular aspect of social knowledge-making within NBM: storytelling. There is growing recognition within medical humanities that subjective experience can be a legitimate source of knowledge; birth stories are noteworthy examples of such knowledge and experience being passed on from one person to the next, one language and culture to another. The talk will elaborate on the importance of examining birth stories shared online and in print among mothers as resources for birth preparation, and on studying them from the perspective of narrative theory as used within translation studies and elsewhere, in order to examine how personal narratives/testimonials are circulated with a view to challenge the deeply ingrained public narratives on women’s bodies and social position within the Turkish society.


Şebnem Susam-Saraeva is a Senior Lecturer in Translation Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, U.K. Her research interests have included gender and translation, retranslations, translation of literary and cultural theories, research methodology in translation studies, internationalization of the discipline, translation and popular music, and translation and social movements. She is the author of Translation and Popular Music. Transcultural Intimacy in Turkish-Greek Relations (2015) and Theories on the Move. Translation’s Role in the Travels of Literary Theories (2006), and guest-editor of Translation and Music (2008) and Non-Professionals Translating and Interpreting. Participatory and Engaged Perspectives (2012, with Luis Pérez-González). Beyond the University of Edinburgh, she is the Chair of the ARTIS Steering Committee (Advancing Research in Translation and Interpreting Studies).