Translating Feminism 2018 Conference

In June 2018, we held our biggest event to date, the international conference, ‘Multi-disciplinary Perspectives on Text, Place and Agency’ – we had speakers from four continents and a really exciting and interesting programme. In the run-up to the conference, there was a lot of work to do, but we were all really excited to meet our speakers and kick off some brilliant conversations about translating feminism.

This was the last event organised as part of the project, so we really wanted it to be a success and to end the project with a bang; I’m pleased to report that that is exactly what we did! If you’re interested in knowing more about the speakers and their papers, there’s a lot of information in previous posts.

We asked local feminist company, Wild and Kind Studio to print some tote bags for us. They are a female-focused initiative and their studio is based right around the corner from our venue, the Glasgow Women’s Library, so it made sense to ask them and everyone was really happy with the results!

We were so pleased to be able to hold two days of the conference at the Glasgow Women’s Library. It’s a really special facility – housing an amazing archive, hosting lots of brilliant events and, of course, lending books – and we are lucky to have it here in Glasgow. They are also wonderful conference hosts and we couldn’t have asked for more: everyone raved about the catering and we were given a very warm welcome by the excellent staff.

Olga Castro

Day one was packed with brilliant papers, encouraging us to consider feminist translation from a number of different perspectives – the role(s) that activists can play; the challenges of ‘global English’; the various ways that ideas travel across continents; the continuing pivotal role of material culture like magazines play in spreading feminist ideas. Lots of new connections were made and ideas sparked – it was a long day, but we were excited for day two!

The second day started in typical Glasgow fashion with a bit of weather drama. High winds meant that trains were cancelled and the audience first thing on Thursday in the Glasgow Women’s Library was a little thinner than it had been the previous day. However, everyone made it in the end and our speakers covered topics ranging from translating across writing systems; historical perspectives on women’s health; translating poetry and the notion of using multilingual texts to challenge and play with readers.

Thursday evening consisted of our knowledge exchange workshop, where we discussed the challenges and solutions that are found at the intersection between translation and business.

Nina Nurmila, Shashi Kumar, Maud Bracke, Mandira Sen, Sian Reynolds, Manal Alzahrani

The workshop began with a roundtable discussion featuring translators and publishers and then the discussion opened up to the rest of the participants.

We had asked the panellists to speak to some fairly general questions about the sometimes tricky decisions that have to be made to accommodate the needs and whims of everyone involved in publishing works in translation – translators, editors, publishers, authors, etc. These were big questions and, after two days immersed in the theory and practice of feminist translation, the panel and audience were fizzing with ideas.

While solutions are hard to find, we made a good stab at identifying the main issues and remaining open to ways of listening and, hopefully, resolving them.

One of the reasons that ‘Translating Feminism’ came into being was to bring to light the crossovers between translation and academia which often go unnoticed and unacknowledged – to the detriment of both academia and the translators. Our aim has always been to involve practitioners in this work and to provide a useful space for discussions: I think this is what we achieved here and it was a productive and stimulating evening.

Claudia de Lima Costa

Friday began with a talk from our keynote speaker, Claudia De Lima Costa. Her paper gave us lots of food for thought: she encouraged us to think about translation from a post-human perspective. The translation of gestures, feelings, facial expressions, as well as interspecies translation. It was fascinating and thought-provoking and an excellent way to start day three.

The speakers on the third day touched on the religious and political aspects of translation, the performance of translation, the intricacies and nuances of subtitling and the ways that translation decisions can be questioned and puzzled over years after the fact. The third day of a conference can sometimes feel a bit like a chore – everyone is usually tired and thinking of their journeys home. However, I can happily say that was not the case here; everyone managed to bring an impressive level of energy.

We managed to get a photo with almost everyone in it, an achievement in itself after three very busy days. While this might be the last big event that is organised as part of the ‘Translating Feminism’ Network, I am confident that the connections, friendships and conversations that were made and took place over these three days will continue the project’s legacy for a long time.

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