Meet our second panel of the conference

Translating Feminism 


Continuing our focus on the conference’s panels, our second panel of the first day of the conference considers  ‘Collaborative Translation Practices.’


SPEAKER 1. Michael En, University of Vienna, Austria 

‘What if you gave it to a white straight man?’: ‘Our’ and ‘other’ identities in an LGBTIQ* migrant community translation project


In 2016, the Vienna-based LGBTIQ* activist organisation MiGaY published a text on ‘coming out’ that pays particular attention to the challenges faced by LGBTIQ* migrants in Austria. MiGaY then initiated a community translation project for translating this information into other languages, both to make it more widely available and to highlight diversity within LGBTIQ* communities. At the time of writing, the project is ongoing, with more than 15 different translations having been completed and several others being worked on, ranging from languages strongly tied to Austria’s history and current multicultural reality such as Turkish, Czech and Hungarian to other languages such as Japanese and Thai. The translators active in this project represent a significant breadth of backgrounds, from academics working on related topics, to professional translators not part of the LGBTIQ* community themselves, to LGBTIQ* individuals with no experience in professional translation.  Based on my experiences as project manager and analyses of semi-structured qualitative interviews with 13 volunteer translators, I examine the ways in which translators from different linguistic/cultural backgrounds bring their specific perspectives on LGBTIQ* topics into the project. I discuss how translators negotiate ‘expertise’ in relation to translation, LGBTIQ* questions and activism, and show how translators position themselves in relation to various ‘Others’, such as their imagined target audience, their assumed ‘professional’ fellow translators and those outside their own sexual orientation and gender identity. By doing so, I aim to provide a useful example of an LGBTIQ* activist translation project ‘in practice’ that as I hope will serve as an inspiration for feminist translators in general and community translation projects in particular.


Michael En has been a translator all his life, but only learned/dared to call himself that when he found his way in Translation Studies, where he is currently doing his PhD on the effects of native-speakerism on the (self-)perceptions of multilingual speakers in the form of Stereotype Threat. He is interested in how language users – that is, all of us – shape the discursive worlds we (get to) inhabit, particularly in regards to those of us who often see themselves forced to fight back against the language used for/on us. He is an activist-translator who cares about words but is wary of labels.


SPEAKER 2.  Karin Hanta, Middlebury College, USA


Eva Kollisch, together with Gerda Lerner and Joan Kelly one of the founders of the academic discipline of women’s studies, penned her autobiographical work The Ground under My Feetin 2008. In this work, she recounts her childhood in Austria and her escape from Vienna to England on a Kindertransport for Jewish children in 1938. After emigrating to the United States with her parents, Kollisch became active in the Trotskyite Workers Party, the subject of her book Girl in Movement (2000). A lifelong peace activist, Kollisch taught at Sarah Lawrence College for four decades. Starting in 2003, Eva Kollisch’s work was transferred to the Austrian literary field through translation. The late 1990s and early 2000s saw a confluence of two trends in Austrian Holocaust and exile literature: not only was a substantial amount of autobiographical writings by survivors and exiles published, but it was also women’s voices in particular that made themselves heard. In both of her autobiographical works, Eva Kollisch casts a feminist gaze at the rise of Nazism and the way gender played out in her and her parents’ exile and her subsequent political involvement.  This paper argues that it took a wide variety of cultural agents – the director of the Austrian Exile Archive, publishers, and political decision-makers – to integrate Eva Kollisch in the Austrian literary field through cultural and translation and – as Roman Jakobson calls it — translation proper. What was most congenial about Eva Kollisch’s return to her “mother tongue” was the author’s intimate collaboration with feminist translator Astrid Berger, who, 40 years younger than the author, was able to “repatriate” the author’s work in an Austrian literary field that was trying to come to terms with the country’s Nazi past. As a result, a decidedly feminist view of the Jewish life in Austria, the Anschluss, and its aftermath was incorporated into the Austrian literary canon through translation from English to German.


Karin Hanta holds an M.A. in Conference Interpreting and Translation and PhD in Translation Studies (both from the University of Vienna). In her 2017 dissertation “Back to the Mother Tongue: Austro-American Exile Writers in the Austrian Literary Field, 1990-2015,” she explored the role of translation in the creation of Austrian memory culture. She both directs the women’s resource center and teaches “Intro to Translation Studies” and, most recently, “The Holocaust & Exile in Translation” at Middlebury College (Vermont, USA). For the past 25 years, she has been active as a translator and writer for institutions such as the Austrian Cultural Forum New York, focusing specifically on the literary works and history of World War II exiles. In 2017, her translation of the letters that renowned Austrian writer Stefan Zweig—one of the most translated author of his time—and and his wife Lotte wrote from their South American exile from 1940 to 1942 were published by Hentrich & Hentrich, Berlin.


SPEAKER 3. Beatriz Regina Guimarães Barboza, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil


This communication wishes to discuss some aspects of a four-hand translation of Desglaç [Thawing] (1989) to Portuguese, a book written by Maria-Mercè Marçal, who is considered to be the most recent name of the modern Catalan poetic canon (Fernàndez, 2014) and who openly wrote about lesbian relationships. She is known as poet, novelist, translator, editor, teacher of Catalan and a feminist who brought the ideals of her activism to all those activities. So, translating her book to Portuguese, in a collaborative work between two scholars and translators, one Catalan and the other Brazilian, showed itself as an homage to the feminist and Catalan activism of Marçal. She translated Anna Akhmatova and Marina Tsvetaeava collaboratively with Monika Zgustova as a form of feminist struggle, as Pilar Godayol pointed to (2011), and we’ll briefly address it to show how our practice tries to mirror her pursuit through translation. For this paper, we’ll present one of the poems contained in Desglaç that entangles Marçal’s poetic representation of lesbian sexuality with her dialogue with the literary tradition, T’estimo quan et se nua com una nena [I love you when I know you naked like a little girl]. With our discussion of this poem’s translation, we’ll expose its content, which is relevant within a feminist discussion of lesbian representation of sexuality, and its form, chosen by Marçal because of her revisionist proposal of poetic traditional structures (as it was done by Adrienne Rich too, in her project of “re-vision”, who was also an inspiration to Marçal and was translated by her), in this case, the alexandrine verse, but also the poetic language and imagery related to women and nudity as an intermingling of reason and feeling, disrupting this standard dichotomy. To conclude, we emphasize that our translation is a collaborative work that recalls Marçal’s conception of sororitat, gathering knowledge from our experiences with poetry, studies inside the academia and cross-culturally located subjectivities.


Beatriz Regina Guimarães Barboza is a MA student in the program of Translation Studies at UFSC, Federal University of Santa Catarina, translating Anne Sexton’s The Awful Rowing Toward God to Portuguese with a feminist approach. Together with Meritxell Hernando Marsal, both are translating Maria-Mercè Marçal’s Desglaç to Portuguese. She is member of GEFLiT (Grupo de Estudos Feministas na Literatura e na Tradução/Group of Feminist Studies on Literature and Translation) at UFSC, and works with poetry revision for Urutau (an independent publisher from São Paulo), with translation of poetry written by women and her own personal writing.

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