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Solidarity in Translation

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Organizer: Anthony Alessandrini

Co-Organizer: Julie-Françoise Tolliver

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In “Five Theses on the Common,” Gigi Roggero writes that “the common is always organized in translation.” This seminar begins from a related suggestion: that it might be possible to say that solidarity is always organized in translation.

This could mean a number of things. Most simply, forms of international/translocal solidarity almost inevitably involve the use of literal translations. At a different level, we might ask whether "translation" can be useful for thinking about the role played by literary and cultural production in political struggle—for example, asking how writers and artists translate political struggles into the body of their cultural work, and in turn how political actors translate the forms of political imaginaries found in literary and artistic works into their praxis. At the furthest end of the spectrum, given the global rise of right-wing populism and the resurgence of fascistic nationalist movements (including white supremacist movements), we might propose that today, all attempts to translate across borders and boundaries might be reimagined as forms of solidarity.

We invite proposals for papers that bring together solidarity and translation. Topics and questions for this seminar might include, but are not limited to: What role does, or could, translation play in translocal solidarity movements? What might be learned from historical examples of the successes, and the failures, of translation in attempts to establish solidarity? In what ways does literary translation today help or hinder forms of solidarity? In what ways could translation be productively understood as a metaphor for solidarity? Does “translation” provide a useful way for thinking about the roles that cultural and literary texts play, either in providing accounts of solidarity, helping to define new modes of solidarity, or revising existing modes? Do we need to distinguish between “resistant” versus “hegemonic” modes of translation (for example, what do we do with the work of translation done in the service of the state)? If literary texts include the experience of untranslatability, can solidarity exist despite the presence of the untranslatable? We also welcome papers that critique the connection between solidarity and translation, or indeed, that critique or complicate either of the two terms.

This seminar comes out of the larger work of the emerging International Solidarity Action Research Network (ISARN) and is linked to two previous ACLA seminars: “International Solidarity and World Literature” (2018) and “Solidarity, Failure, and the Role of the Critic” (2019). It is part of a larger effort to critically engage with international solidarity in history, theory, and practice. For more information on this larger project, please write to isarn.info@gmail.com

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