Call for Papers

Abstract submissions are now closed. Notification of Acceptance will be available by the end of February.  Registrations will open soon after.

Shifting Powers: the ethics of translation in a transforming Asia

The theoretical and methodological shift introduced in the early 1990s by the ‘cultural turn’ in Translation Studies has been especially significant for Asian contexts, where certain concepts and conditions might be assumed to have a shared basis. By shifting the focus from language to culture, it was possible to draw on important theoretical developments, such as Homi Bhabha’s foundational formulation of translation being the key factor in understanding how cultures shape and transform themselves (The Location of Culture), and the Foucauldian notions of ‘power’ and ‘discourse’, and use these to redefine the contexts and conditions of translation. One particular question that emerges is that of the historicity of Translation Studies itself. As Tejaswini Niranjana argues, translation is not merely “an interlingual process” but “an entire problematic” that determines the very nature of representational practices (Siting Translation: History, Post-structuralism and the Colonial Context). Spanning across a multiplicity of discourses and disciplines, Translation Studies has more recently also undergone a ‘sociological turn’ bringing into sharper focus the various agencies and agents involved in any translation process (Wolf 2012) and generating a renewed attention to ethics, where the practice of translation might itself be seen as suspect, where the translator’s role is active and alert in interpreting geopolitical conflicts.

This conference seeks to interrogate the role of translators in, and of, Asia as participants in, and commentators on, a changing world. Translators minimise or break down barriers between the ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘we’ and ‘Other’, and in doing so, create inclusive local, regional and global experiences and life trajectories for consumers of linguistic and cultural artefacts. Yet, translation can also be an exclusive process: decisions about what is translated, how and for whom, have far-reaching implications for the inclusion and exclusion of certain communities and/or stakeholders, simultaneously empowering some and disempowering others.

Viewing translation as a tool of inclusion or exclusion raises a number of critical issues for exploration. These issues come to bear on translation across a number of written, spoken and artistic genres. This is particularly the case in the global era, due to any number of concerns in the Asian sphere, including: shifts from traditional to late-modern ways of being and living; a search for Asian symbols and genres, which are translatable to global spheres; how ‘local’ translators may tap into ‘global’ transcultural flows (e.g. Western, Islam) in ‘glocal’ ways; pragmatic equivalence across Asian and/or Western theoretical frames; unpacking global dimensions of new audiences; implications for flows of financial capital or political processes; coming to grips with shifting power centres (e.g. U.S., China); access to resources, education and development.  

This conference seeks to explore these issues and more from the perspective of Asian Translation Traditions (ATT). Thus, we seek to continue the trailblazing work of prior ATT Conferences in examining non-Eurocentric, and specifically Asian, approaches to translation and inclusion and Translation Studies more generally.

Topics for papers

We define translation broadly to include the rendering of any symbols (e.g. words, pictures, social media) as understandable to the Other. This includes traditional senses of language translators, but also the role of artists, journalists and even family members as mediators of symbols between different cultures and society.

We welcome papers that explore translation in any of the following topics in areas of academic discourse, business, culture, education, environmental practice, health, law, policy and politics:

  • Intercultural communication: a new lingua franca
  • Lingua francas: beyond English
  • Symbols of inclusion and exclusion
  • Heritage and nostalgia in the modern sphere
  • Linguistic or cultural maintenance or revival
  • Resistance and dissent
  • Migration and mobilities
  • Technologies and new (social) media
  • Pragmatic equivalence in Western and/or Asian frames
  • Politeness and the politic
  • Hospitality and hostility
  • Translating glocalities
  • Translating global marketing messages
  • Words and pictures
  • Shifting global centre(s) for knowledge production and/or transfer
  • Religion and language
  • Urban and rural identities


Guidance for abstracts

Abstract submissions are now closed.

Please do not email your submissions to individual organising committee members.

Abstracts are encouraged as Individual Presentations as well as Panel Proposals:

Presentations and Panels are encouraged presenting scholarly research results, theoretical discussions, or analysis, case studies, practical applications, evaluations, policies, programs or analysis of emergent issues and trends that contribute to our understanding of the core conference theme and guiding questions.

Authors should submit an abstract of no more than 250 words with the following information:

  • Paper title
  • Name and organisational affiliation of presenter/author
  • Contact details of author/presenter (email and mobile)

Hosted by Monash University and Monash Malaysia Faculty of Arts, in partnership with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Sponsored by the Monash Asia Institute, the Migration, Identity and Translation Network (MITN), and the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics