Bearing Across: Translating Literary Narratives of Migration, 16-17 September 2013 [abstract deadline: 13 March 2013]

full name / name of organization: 
Erasmus University College of Brussels, Belgium

International Conference organised by the Centre for Literary Translation at the Erasmus University College of Brussels in cooperation with the Centre for Literature, Intermediality, and Culture at the Free University of Brussels (VUB)

16.09.2013-17.09.2013, Brussels, Erasmus University College of Brussels, Department of Applied Linguistics, Centre for Literary Translation

Deadline: 13.03.2013

Bringing together scholars from different disciplines such as cultural studies, translation studies, area studies, comparative literature, and anthropology, this conference aims at providing a new understanding of migration as a theoretical concept, analytical category, and lived experience in the study of the translation of migration literature, be it by the authors themselves, or by professional translators.

Through issues such as dwelling and displacement, monolingualism and multilingualism, transnationalism and national identity, this conference seeks to investigate how the translation of narratives of migration – e.g. in German-Turkish, Dutch-Moroccan, French-Algerian, British-Indian literature – engages with and shapes the ongoing redefinition of cultural identities.

In Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie describes the relationship between migration and translation as follows: "The word 'translation' comes, etymologically, from Latin for 'bearing across'. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men." (Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. London: Penguin, 1992. 17) The condition of the modern subject as a 'translated man' indeed seems to be that of geographical and linguistic border-crossing, between the local and the global. Translation can thus be regarded as a sequence of language practices and an existential situation of migrants dealing with dislocation. Accordingly, this conference focuses, on the one hand, on translation of literary narratives of migration as intralingual transaction – as cultural translation – that reformulates and reassesses cultural specificities in a new and often alienating way and, on the other hand, as interlingual transaction that applies processes of mediation to issues of agency and communication (cf. Doris Bachmann-Medick). Therefore, this conference focuses basically on two strands: 1. literature by migrant authors, either written in their own language, but 'translating' their unfamiliar surroundings, or written in the language predominant in their 'unfamiliar surroundings'; and 2. literature, written by migrant authors, translated into the language of their actual place of residence or into any other language.

Submissions for 20-minute papers may include, but are not restricted to:
- Theoretical approaches to the concept of 'migration' in translation
- Political commitment and translating migration literature
- Transmission of identity and belonging in translation
- Translation of linguistic hybridity (creolisation, multilingualism, ungrammaticality)
- Self-translation and the question of migrant authors writing in adopted languages
- Significance of the literary translator in the reception of migration literature and the emergence of (alternative) literary canons
- Relationship between translator's poetics and author's poetics
- Translation as aesthetic and ideological adaptation

Organising Institution:
Erasmus University College of Brussels
Department of Applied Linguistics
Centre for Literary Translation

Organising Committee:
Philippe Humblé, PhD
Arvi Sepp, PhD
Gys-Walt Van Egdom, MA

Scientific Committee
Prof. dr. Elisabeth Bekers (Free University of Brussels, VUB)
Prof. dr. Hans Vandevoorde (Free University of Brussels, VUB)
Prof. dr. Dirk Vanden Berghe (Free University of Brussels, VUB)
Prof. dr. Rita Temmerman (Erasmus University College of Brussels)
Prof. dr. Ilse Logie (Ghent University)
Prof. dr. Désirée Schyns (University College Ghent)

Erasmus University College of Brussels
Department of Applied Linguistics
Pleinlaan 5
1050 Brussels

250 word abstracts and a 150 word bio should be submitted by 13 March, 2013 to Arvi Sepp ( and Philippe Humblé ( For further information, please contact Gys-Walt Van Egdom at Graduate students are also welcome to submit their proposals and participate in the conference.

Please note there will be a conference fee of 60 Euro.

The language of the conference is English, but we encourage the use and visibility of other languages in multilingual handouts, slides, etc.

A publication of the proceedings with selected contributions in a refereed volume is planned.