Translating and Interpreting Development: The importance of language(s) in processes of social transformation in developing countries
Inaugural issue of the Journal for Translation Studies in Africa
Guest editor: Carmen Delgado Luchner (email@example.com)
The majority of the world’s population lives in what is commonly known as emerging or developing countries. Most of these countries are highly multilingual and present a wealth of institutionalised and informal translation and interpreting (T&I) practices. In numerous African countries in particular, many citizens have limited mastery of their country’s official language (Djité, 2008), and T&I can play an important developmental role by contributing to the emergence of shared representations and social forms (Mazrui, 2016). This role can only be understood by adopting a non-reductionist perspective, which takes into account the plurality of cultural, political and economic factors that influence how populations experience development (Marais, 2014) and how they embrace or resist the social changes brought about in its name (Rist, 2015; Olivier de Sardan, 1995).
Compared with industrialised market-economy countries, developing countries generally experience more acute limitations in skills and material and financial resources. These have implications for the practical implementation of multilingualism, the potential for professional T&I (Molefe and Marais, 2013; Marais, 2014) and the training of language professionals (Delgado Luchner, 2015). National governments, multilateral organisations and donors have been trying to address these limitations through a variety of national initiatives, as well as international aid.
Development practices in general and aid work in particular have in turn given rise to their own practices of translation, interpreting and cultural mediation, including monolingual practices involving the ‘translation’ of local reality into international ‘development speak’ (Cornwall and Eade, 2010). Non-governmental organisations (NGOs), in particular, have placed increasing emphasis on participatory development approaches, which rest on their ability to communicate successfully across the linguistic and cultural divide that often separates them from project beneficiaries. To implement participatory development projects, NGOs and local institutions often rely on intermediaries, i.e. “development brokers” (Bierschenk et al., 2002; Lewis and Mosse, 2006), whose role involves T&I in both its interlinguistic and intersemiotic senses.
The T&I practices of NGOs and other international organizations delivering aid have sparked some interest from translation studies scholars in recent years (Tesseur, 2014, 2017; Footitt, 2017; Delgado Luchner 2018; Delgado Luchner and Kherbiche, 2018) and have been the object of a special issue of Translation Spaces (Tesseur, 2018). However, there still remains scope for a wider theoretical engagement with development as a “discursive field” (Escobar, 1994) and social practice (Olivier de Sardan, 1995), and the role of T&I and multilingualism in development projects and more generally in developing societies remains understudied. As pointed out by Marais (2014: 143) in his seminal book, the relationship between translation and development “has been neglected by both translation studies and development studies, to the detriment of both”. This research gap might in part be the result of a eurocentric bias in many disciplines, including Translation Studies (Tymoczko, 2006), or a tendency to view development as an economic rather than a social phenomenon.
This special issue, with which the Journal for Translation Studies in Africa (JTSA) is launched, aims to establish an interdisciplinary dialogue between T&I studies and fields such as development anthropology, international relations and cultural studies. It addresses the nexus between T&I and development from complementary disciplinary angles and is open to theory, practice and pedagogy. While we place particular emphasis on African scholarship and research into development phenomena on the African continent, contributions from other regions are also encouraged.
Questions and themes for the special issue
Papers should seek aim to address the following over-arching questions:
- What role do T&I and other multilingual communication practices play in the social transformation that developing countries are experiencing?
- How do development contexts constrain these communication practices?
- What are the specific translation practices produced by development projects?
- What implications can be derived for translator and interpreter training in development contexts?
Relevant topics for the special issue include:
- The role of translation and interpretation (T & I) in the emergence of social and cultural forms in development contexts
- The use of T & I in the context of the development mandate of community organizations and community media
- T & I in Public Health and other essential sectors in development contexts
- The identity and positionality of language intermediaries in development projects and public institutions in the developing world
- Translator and interpreter training for development contexts
- Development-related constraints for the professionalization of T & I
- The promotion of English or another dominant language through development aid
Instructions to contributors
Articles should be between 5000 and 7000 words and follow the guidelines on the JTSA website.
NB: Please send abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org
Journal for Translation Studies in Africa
The Journal for Translation Studies in Africa is a project of the Association for Translation Studies in Africa and hosted and funded by the University of the Free State, Bloemfontein. For more information about the journal, you can visit its web page at http://journals.ufs.ac.za/index.php/jtsa/index or contact the editor, Kobus Marais, at email@example.com
1 September 2018 – issue of the CfP
15 October 2018 – deadline for abstracts (500 words and preliminary list of references)
31 October 2018 – notification of acceptance of abstracts
15 January 2019 – deadline for full articles
15 March 2019 – peer review to authors
15 May 2019 – deadline for submission of revised articles, final checks by editors
15 June 2019 – submission of final articles to production
1 September 2019 – publication of the inaugural issue
Bierschenk, T., J.-P. Cauveau, and J.-P. Olivier de Sardan (2002). Local development brokers in Africa: The rise of a new social category. Arbeitspapiere. Institut für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien. Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz 13, 1–44.
Cornwall, A. and D. Eade (Eds.) (2010). Deconstructing Development Discourse. Buzzwords and Fuzzwords. Warwickshire, UK: Practical Action Publishing in association with Oxfam GB.
Delgado Luchner, C. (2015). Setting up a Master’s Programme in Conference Interpreting at the University of Nairobi: An Interdisciplinary Case Study of A Development Project Involving Universities and International Organisations, PhD thesis, Faculté de traduction et d’interprétation, University of Geneva.
Delgado Luchner, C. (2018), Contact Zones of the Aid Chain: the Multilingual Practices of Two Swiss Development NGOs. Translation Spaces 7(1), 44-64.
Delgado Luchner, C. and L. Kherbiche (2018). Without Fear or Favour? The Positionality of ICRC and UNHCR Interpreters in the Humanitarian Field. Target (online first), 1-22.
Djité, P. G. (2008). The Sociolinguistics of Development in Africa. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Escobar, A. (1994). Encountering Development. The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Footitt, H. (2017). International aid and development: hearing multilingualism, learning from intercultural encounters in the history of OxfamGB. Language and Intercultural Communication 17(4), 518–533.
Lewis, D. and D. Mosse (2006). Development Brokers and Translators: The Ethnography of Aid and Agencies. West Hartfort, CT: Kumarian Press.
Marais, K. (2014). Translation Theory and Development Studies: A Complexity Theory Approach. London, UK: Routledge.
Mazrui, A. M. (2016). Cultural Politics of Translation: East Africa in a Global Context. London, UK: Routledge.
Molefe, M. and K. Marais (2013). The role of language practice in access to public service in South Africa: The case of Philippolis. In P. Cuvelier, T. du Plessis, M. Meeuwis, R. Vandekerckhove, and V. Webb (Eds.), Multilingualism for Empowerment, pp. 72–90. Pretoria, RSA: Van Schaik Publishers.
Olivier de Sardan, J.-P. (1995). Anthropologie et développement : essai en socio-anthropologie du changement social. Collection Hommes et sociétés. Paris, FR: Karthala.
Rist, G. (2015). Le développement: Histoire d’une croyance occidentale. 4e édition revue et augmentée. Paris, FR: Presses de Sciences Po.
Tesseur, W. (2014). Institutional multilingualism in NGOs: Amnesty International’s strategic understanding of multilingualism. Meta 59(3), 557–577.
Tesseur, W. (2017). The translation challenges of INGOs. professional and non-professional translation at Amnesty International. Translation Spaces 6(2), 209–229.
Tesseur, W. (Ed.) (2018), Translation and Interpreting in Non-Governmental Organisations. Special issue of Translation Spaces 7(1).
Tymoczko, M. (2006). Translating others, Chapter Reconceptualizing Western translation theory. Integrating non-Western thought about translation, pp. 13–32. Manchester, UK: St. Jerome.