Globalising Dissent – Cairo, 2015
‘The Only Thing Worth Globalizing Is Dissent’
Translation and the Many Languages of Resistance
A three-day conference held in Cairo, 6-8 March 2015
Funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council, UK
Organized by Mona Baker, Yasmin El Rifae, and Mada Masr
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/globalizingdissent
First Call for Contributions
Activists from various regions and countries connect with and influence one another through practices involving various types of translation, including video subtitling, written translation, and oral interpretation. The Egyptian Revolution and the activists and collectives who have worked to move it forward have been highly visible to other protest movements in large part through such practices. This conference aims to explore themes related to translation and its role in creating a global image for protest movements, and in connecting different movements to one another.
Held in Cairo, the conference will engage extensively with the Egyptian Revolution and the values and practices that Egyptian activist groups have shared with other groups around the world. It will also accommodate contributions relating to other protest movements insofar as they shed light on some of the ways in which global networks of solidarity are enabled and mediated by different types of translational practice. The event is ultimately intended to highlight the political import of translation and to provide a space for local, regional and international activists to reflect on the processes of mediation that allow them to connect with other movements and publics.
Translation is understood here in both its narrow and broad senses. In its narrow sense, translation involves rendering fully articulated stretches of textual material from one national language into another, and encompasses various modalities such as written translation, subtitling and oral interpreting. This type of translation is part of the fabric of practically all oppositional groups in Egypt – from the written translation of statements and campaigns by groups such as No to Military Trials to the subtitling of videos by collectives such as Mosireen and Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution. As Rizk (2013)* explains, it is translation that allows activists involved in a group such as Mosireen to connect with protest movements elsewhere and to see themselves “within a broader struggle and not an atomized battle against local dictatorship”. In its broad sense, translation involves the mediation of diffuse symbols, narratives and linguistic signs of varying lengths across modalities (e.g. words into image), levels of language (e.g. fusha and ‘amiyya) and cultural spaces, the latter without necessarily crossing a language boundary. As such it also encompasses the use of languages other than Arabic in writings and discussions about the Egyptian Revolution, the use of (forms of) Arabic in addressing regional audiences, as well as the journey of visual and musical artefacts across social and national boundaries.
Themes to be addressed include but are not limited to the following:
- Forms of mutual solidarity that are enabled and enhanced by various acts of translation;
- Video activism and the role of subtitling in negotiating the shift from representation to narration;
- Critical appraisals of the internet savvy middle class in Egypt as translators and interpreters of the Revolution;
- The role of translation in situating the Egyptian Revolution within broader struggles, especially in the global south (Argentina, Brazil, Turkey, etc.);
- Case studies of the contribution of translation to specific activist projects connected with the Egyptian Revolution or with similar movements elsewhere (Turkey, Greece, Argentina, etc.);
- The political import of creative strategies of translation, in its narrow and broad senses, in the context of protest movements;
- The extent to which new technologies and software support or restrict the subversive potential of translation;
- The interaction between textual and visual media, and between different languages, in sites of protest such as graffiti and street performance.
Khalid Abdalla’s work primarily focuses on film and its relationship with political fault lines. He works as an actor, producer and filmmaker, but also in cultural production, alternative media, and as an activist. He is a founding member of three collaborative spaces in Cairo – Zero Production, Mosireen and Cimatheque. He has acted leading roles in Hollywood films, including United 93, The Kite Runner and Green Zone. He also has two upcoming films from the Arab world: In the Last Days of the City and The Narrow Frame of Midnight. In documentary film, he has producing credits on In the Shadow of a Man and the upcoming film The Vote. He also appears in the Oscar nominated The Square. Born in Glasgow and brought up in London, he lives in Cairo.
Samah Selim is Associate Professor in the Department of African, Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Literatures at Rutgers University. She received her BA in English Literature from Barnard College in 1986 and her PhD from the Department of Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures at Columbia University in 1997. She has previously taught at Columbia University, Princeton University and the University of Aix-en-Provence. Selim co-directs the literature module of the Berlin-based postdoctoral research program, Europe in the Middle East; the Middle East in Europe and is a member of the Mataroa Research Network, a Greek initiative bringing together scholars, activists and culture workers for a radical, commons-based Mediterranean. Her academic research focuses mainly on modern Arabic literature, with a particular interest in narrative genres like the novel and short story; comparative theories of fiction, and cultural discourses on modernity and the politics of translation practice in colonial and postcolonial contexts. She is the author of The Novel and the Rural Imaginary in Egypt, 1880-1985 and is currently working on a book about translation, modernity and popular fiction in early twentieth-century Egypt. Selim is also a practicing translator. Her translation of Yahya Taher Abdallah’s The Collar and the Bracelet won the 2009 Banipal Prize and in 2011 she was awarded the University of Arkansas Press Award for Arabic Literature in Translation for Jurji Zaydan’s Tree of Pearls, Queen of Egypt. Her interest in translation has taken new directions with the beginning of the 2011 revolution in Egypt. In 2012 she joined the Mosireen collective’s video subtitling unit and has done freelance translating/subtitling on social media and for Egyptian left political organizations.
Amro Ali is a PhD scholar in the Department of Government and International Relations, and the Sydney Democracy Network, at the University of Sydney, Australia. His research examines the emergences of Alexandria’s political public spaces since 2000, and how the city’s revolutionary activity is sustained through periods of repression. He blogs at www.amroali.com and tweets @_amroali.
Leil-Zahra Mortada, Transfeminist Queer Anarchist, was born in Beirut. Leil has formed part of several groups of alternative media and political collectives in Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt and the Spanish State, with a major focus on anarchism, gender activism, the border regime and state terrorism in its multiple forms. For the past few years he has mainly worked within the Egyptian Revolution, primarily taking part in the collectives Operation Against Sexual Harassment/Assault (OpAntiSH), No to Military Trials for Civilians, and Mosireen. He also founded Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution, an oral herstory project, in 2012, with the aim of collecting stories of women of all communities in Egypt who participated in various stages of the Egyptian revolution and/or for whom the revolution meant an important change in their lives.
Cristina Flesher Fominaya has an MA and PhD in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA summa cum laude in International Relations from the University of Minnesota. She is Senior Lecturer (Associate Professor) at the University of Aberdeen and Senior Marie Curie Fellow at National University Ireland, Maynooth. She has won numerous international awards, including the National Science Foundation Fellowship, the German Marshall Fellowship and the Marie Curie IEF Fellowship. She has been researching and participating in European social movements since the early 1990s. She is a founding editor of Interface Journal, an editor of Social Movement Studies, and is founding co-chair of the Council for European Studies Research Network on European Social Movements. She is a Fellow of the European Centre for International Affairs (ECIA). Her latest book is Social Movements and Globalization: How protests, occupations and uprisings are changing the world.
Brandon Jourdan is a journalist and filmmaker who has contributed to Democracy Now!, the NY Times, CNN, Reuters, Deep Dish TV, Independent Media Center, Now with Bill Moyers, Foreign Exchange, and Free Speech TV. Since 2011, he has worked together with Marianne Maeckelbergh on www.globaluprisings.org, an independent news site and video series dedicated to showing responses to the economic crisis and authoritarianism. Together they have produced over 20 short documentary films covering the large-scale uprisings, occupations, protests and revolutions in Egypt, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Spain, Greece, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Turkey and the United States. In November 2013, they organized an international conference on Global Uprisings in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. He can be reached at brandonjourdan AT .
Dalia Abd Elhameed is Head of the Gender Program at the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR). She used to work at the Right to Health Program at the same organization, where her mandate included national and international advocacy for sexual and reproductive health rights. Dalia is also a co-founder of Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (OpAntiSH), a grassroot initiative that resists mob sexual assaults in Cairo during mass protests. She is an MA student in the Sociology/ Anthropology program at the American University in Cairo, where she is currently writing her thesis on organized football fandom in Egypt; The Ultras and the Subject Construction. She is a co-author of a number of human and women’s rights reports, in addition to opinion and analytical pieces in Jadaliyya and other venues.
Tahia Abdel Nasser is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at the American University in Cairo. She was the Interim Director of the Center for Translation Studies at the American University in Cairo in 2012-2013. Her work has appeared in Yearbook of Comparative Literature, Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, and Dictionary of African Biography (Oxford UP, 2011) and is forthcoming in Comparative Literature Studies and Journal of Arabic Literature. Her English translations of poetry by Badr Shakir al-Sayyab and Mahmoud Darwish, among others, have appeared in Jusoor, Mahmoud Darwish: The Adam of Two Edens (Syracuse UP, 2000), and The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology (Interlink Books, 2001). She is currently working on a book manuscript on Arabic, Anglophone and Francophone memoirs in the Arab world in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and the effects of national liberation movements on the development of the genre.
Kari Andén-Papadopoulos is Associate Professor at the Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, Stockholm University. She has published internationally on photojournalism in times of crisis and war, with particular interest in citizen and activist visual practices and new social media. Her forthcoming book titled Global Image Wars: Geopolitics and Post-9/11 Visual Culture (Routledge 2015) considers the increasingly important role that alternative visual images and practices play in the conduct and critique – and later memory – of global conflict. She is currently concluding an international research study, I-Witnessing: Global Crisis Reporting Through the Amateur Lens (funded by the Swedish Research Council, 2011-13), which examines how the contemporary proliferation of crowdsourced imagery – documenting breaking news events as they happen – is recasting the production, reception and recollection of global crisis news.
Lina Attalah is Chief Editor of Mada Masr, an independent Egyptian online newspaper founded in June 2013 by former journalists of the English-language newspaper Egypt Independent following the shutting down of its editorial operations in April 2013. She studied journalism at the American University in Cairo. A former member of the staff of Al-Masry Al-Youm English Edition, she wrote for Reuters, Cairo Times, the Daily Star, and the Christian Science Monitor, among others. In 2005, she worked as radio producer and campaign coordinator with the BBC World Service Trust in Darfur, Sudan. She also worked as project manager for a number of research-based projects with multi-media outputs around the themes of space, mobility, and intellectual history.
Anna Bernard is Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at King’s College London. She is the author of Rhetorics of Belonging: Nation, Narration, and Israel/Palestine (Liverpool University Press, 2013) and the co-editor of Debating Orientalism (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and What Postcolonial Theory Doesn’t Say (Routledge, forthcoming 2015). She is currently working on a book about international solidarity movements and culture.
Elena Biagi is Professor of Arabic at the University of Milan, Italy, where she teaches Arabic Language and Specialized Translation. During her long stay in Egypt, she worked as a Research Assistant at the American University in Cairo, where she also earned her Master’s Degree in Arabic Studies. Her academic research activities focus on the spiritual and literary tradition of Sufism, concentrating on the textual analysis and translation of some works by the Sufis Abû ‘Abd al-Raḥmân al-Sulamî (d.1021) and ‘Umar Ibn al-Fâriḍ (d.1235). She is currently taking part in a project involving a team of researchers, psychologists and social workers who aim to analyze the composite dynamics internal to intercultural relations, with a particular focus on the role played by language in shaping the expression of individual and cultural identities. Biagi is author of A Collection of Sufi Rules of Conduct (Jawâmi‘ Âdâb al-Ṣûfiyya) by Abû ‘Abd al-Raḥmân al-Sulamî (Cambridge: The Islamic Texts Society, 2010), a fully annotated translation of a Sufi treatise preceded by a thorough critical introduction. Her articles have appeared in a wide range of academic reviews, although many of her contributions are also intended to provide the general public with useful insights into various aspects of the Arabic language and Islamic tradition.
Meral Camcı is a translator and a researcher. She completed her first BA in Chemical Engineering, and her second BA in American Culture and Literature, and has an MA in Translation Studies from Istanbul University. Her recently submitted PhD examines the social responsibility of translators and translation studies as a branch of the social sciences. She has been working as a translator in the fields of literary translation, subtitling and translation of social sciences texts since 1998 and is a founding member of BILARK (Scientific Research and Education Cooperative, an independent research initiative in Translation Studies).
Claire Cooley is an MA/PhD student in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of Texas at Austin in the United States. From 2010-2013, before starting graduate school, Claire lived and worked in Cairo, and also pursued projects photographing and translating Egyptian graffiti and street art for her blogs Uprisings in Translation and Where is the Bread?. Her research interests include: Egyptian and Iranian Cinema, Modern and Contemporary Egyptian Literature, New Media and Activism, and Visual Culture.
Salma El Tarzi, born in 1978, is an award winning documentary film maker. She received her BA in film directing from the Egyptian Cinema Institute in 1999. El Tarzi worked as an assistant director and producer on several mainstream films and Television commercials. Her documentary debut was in 2004 with the short documentary Do You Know Why, for which she received the silver award at Rotterdam Arab Film festival. Since then she has directed several documentaries for Al JAzeera as well as the Red Cross Delegation. In 2013 she won the Dubai film Festival award for best documentary director for her film Underground/On the Surface. El Tarzi is a member of the Mosireen collective as well as Operation Anti-Sexual Harassment (OpAntiSH).
Doaa Nabil Embabi is a Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities, Department of English Language and Literature, Ain Shams University, Egypt. She has been involved in translating articles from two volumes of the Cambridge History of Literary Criticism (the volume on the Renaissance and the volume on Modern Literary Theory).
Peter N. Funke is Assistant Professor of Government at the University of South Florida, Tampa. Peter received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania and his Vordiplom from the Freie Universität Berlin. His research focuses on social movements, new media and class formation under globalizing capitalism. His publications include ‘Building Rhizomatic Social Movements? Movement-Building Relays during the Current Epoch of Contention’ (Studies in Social Justice 2014), ‘The Global Social Forum Rhizome: A Theoretical Framework’ (Globalizations 2012) and, with Todd Wolfson, ‘Class in Formation’ (Social Movement Studies 2014) and ‘Communication, Class and Concentric Media Practices’ (New Media & Society, 2014). More information at: http://www.peterfunke.net/.
Sherief Gaber is a researcher and urban planner living in Cairo, Egypt, whose work focuses on housing and the right to the city. He also works with community development organizations in Cairo on issues of public space, community planning and governance. In addition to his work in urbanism, Gaber is a founding member of the Mosireen independent media collective.
Anny Gaul is a writer and translator whose interests include gender, the body, and the politics of translation in the Arab world. She is a doctoral student in Arabic & Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, DC and is a former Fulbright fellow in Jordan (2012-13) and CAASIC fellow at the American University in Cairo (2013-14). She has translated for the Journal of Palestine Studies, Jadaliyya, and The Legal Agenda, among others.
Nida Ghouse is a writer and curator. She is presently the director of Mumbai Art Room. Her curatorial projects include Kharita Symposium on Urban Trajectories with Pericentre Projects in Cairo, Untitled Exhibition # 1 with Padmini Chettur and the Clark House Initiative in Bombay, 14 Proper Nouns with Hassan Khan at the Delfina Foundation in London, In the Desert of Images with Melik Ohanian at the Mumbai Art Room, and La presencia del sonido at the Botín Foundation in Santander. Her ongoing projects include Take to the Sea and Acoustic Matters. Her essays and interviews have appeared in publications such as Arab Studies Journal, ArtAsiaPacific, ArteEast, ArtSlant, Bidoun, Ibraaz and MadaMasr, and in exhibition catalogues of MuKHA in Antwerp, New Museum in New York, Palazzo Grassi in Venice and Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven. She was the first recipient of the FICA-Delfina Research Fellowship in partnership with Iniva and Goldsmith’s Curatorial/Knowledge PhD programme in London in 2011, and a resident at Fondazione Spinola Banna per l’Arte in partnership with the Resò3 programme in Turin in 2013.
Born in Istanbul, 1972, Sabri Gürses has published several poetry collections and novels. He graduated from the Russian Studies Department of Istanbul University in 1999 and completed his masters degree at the Translation Studies Department of the same university, with a thesis entitled ‘Translating the Translator: A Comparision of Nabokov’s Translation of Eugene Onegin and the Turkish Translations of Onegin’. He has won several awards for his literary works and translations and has been publishing (online and in print) a popular magazine on translation studies entitled Çeviribilim since 2005 (www.ceviribilim.com). Çeviribilim won an award from the Translation Society of Turkey in 2011. Sabri is now pursuing his doctoral studies at the Russian Studies Department of Erciyes University.
Jonathan Guyer is senior editor of the Cairo Review of Global Affairs, a policy journal published by the American University in Cairo. From 2012 to 2013, he was a Fulbright fellow researching political cartoons in Egypt. Previously, he served as assistant editor of Foreign Policy magazine’s Middle East Channel. A frequent analyst on Public Radio International and France 24 English, he has contributed to New http://oumcartoon.tumblr.com., Guernica Jadaliyya, Salon, and others. CNN, The Economist, New Statesman, Reuters, TIME magazine, and World Affairs Journal have cited his research on Egyptian satire. He blogs about Arabic comics and caricature at Oum Cartoon:
Amira Hanafi lives and works in Cairo. She is the author of Forgery (Green Lantern Press, 2011), Minced English (2010), several artist’s books and various printed matter. Her digital work What I’m Wearing was shortlisted for the 2014 New Media Writing Prize, and her writing has appeared in numerous literary journals.
Malak Helmy is an artist based in Cairo. Her writing has been published in forums including Log – Journal for Architecture and Urbanism, Ibraaz, Bidoun, oo-oo.co (the Lithuanian/Cypriot pavilion of the 55th Biennale di Venezia) and Mada Masr. Her work has been exhibited in the Mercosul Biennial, Gwangju Biennial, Aspen Museum of Art, 64th and 63rd Berlinale Expanded Forum. Her work involves a personal and historical consciousness of place. She has also worked in collective initiatives exploring areas between urban research and artistic production. Ongoing projects include Records from the Excited State – a project that conducts an analysis, over time, of the biological and social rhythms of a site of leisure on the coastline of Egypt, Emotional Architecture, and a yet untitled film project that looks at the state of Qatar through the lens of the development of its medical complex.
Alisa Lebow is a Reader in Film Studies at the University of Sussex, UK. Her current research is concerned with questions of ‘the political’ in documentary, thus far considered in terms of the documentary camera and its relationship to the gun, documentary representations of war, and the strategies of filming revolution. She is co-editor of the Companion to Contemporary Documentary (with Alexandra Juhasz, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015). Her books – The Cinema of Me (Wallflower, 2012) and First Person Jewish (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) – explore aspects of the representation of self and subjectivity in first person documentary. Her films include For the Record: The World Tribunal on Iraq (2007), Treyf (1998) and Outlaw (1994). Her current research project combines her scholarly and practical work: a Leverhulme Trust funded interactive meta documentary about filmmaking in Egypt since the revolution (www.filmingrevolution.org), which goes live in 2015.
Karim Mattar is an Assistant Professor of English at CU Boulder, specializing in postcolonial studies. He received his DPhil in English from the University of Oxford (2013), after earning degrees at UCL (BA, 2003), Warwick (MA, 2004), Sussex (MA, 2005), and Virginia (MA, 2009). Dr. Mattar’s research and teaching interests include Middle Eastern literatures in English, Palestinian literature and culture, the global novel, postcolonial studies, world literature, critical theory (esp. Marxism), and modernism. His work charts a post-Saidian world literary landscape where the political, religious, and gender ideologies that undergird conflict between ‘occidental’ and ‘oriental’ cultures both determine literary circulation, and are mediated through form. His articles have appeared or are forthcoming in Interventions, the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Translation and Literature, English Language Notes, and elsewhere. His special issue of the Journal of Postcolonial Writing on “The Global Checkpoint”, co-edited with David Fieni, came out in early 2014, and his edited special issue of English Language Notes on “Cartographies of Dissent” is due out in early 2015. In 2012, he, with Anna Ball and Mohamed-Salah Omri, co-convened the first ever “Oxford Palestine Film Season”, which featured a range of Palestinian filmmakers and scholars. He is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled The Middle Eastern Novel in English: Literary Transnationalism after Orientalism, as well as, with Anna Ball, a co-edited volume on The Postcolonial Middle East.
Deena Mohamed is a 20-year old graphic design student and illustrator. She is also the creator, writer and artist of the webcomic Qahera (the superhero, not the city.) She lives in Cairo, Egypt.
Hina Nandrajog is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at Vivekananda College, University of Delhi. Having completing her M.Phil in English from University of Delhi, Dr. Hina Nandrajog did her Ph.D from Punjabi University, Patiala (Punjab). She is an academic, scholar, critic, teacher and translator. She has published several critical articles and translations. Her areas of interest are the Partition of India in 1947 from a historical and literary perspective, and the idea of diversity and multi-linguality in India. She translates from Punjabi and Hindi into English and has won several awards. Among these are the Katha Prize for Translation in 1999 and in 2001, and a Consolation Prize from the Sahitya Akademi in 2007. She was on the Panel of Jury Members to choose the Sahitya Akademi Translation Prize 2008 in Punjabi and has completed several translation projects for the National Book Trust, Sahitya Akademi, Centre for Development of Punjabi Language and Culture and the Punjabi Academy. She has also been actively involved in creating e.content for the Institute of Life Long Learning, University of Delhi. Currently she is on deputation as Associate Professor at Cluster Innovation Centre, University of Delhi.
Ethel Odriozola studied sociology in Madrid and Istanbul, and is currently doing research on work songs around the world and working with Zenobia Traducciones, a small translation cooperative in Madrid which specializes in political work. She participates in several alternative media groups and social movements, especially related to ‘no border’ issues and the right to the city. Her recent translations into Spanish include Assata Shakur: An Autobiography and The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander.
Barbara Quaranta holds a BA in Translation and Interpretation for specific purposes from the University of Naples “L’Orientale” and an MA in Technical and Scientific Translation in Arabic and English from LUSPIO University in Rome. She is a PhD candidate in Intercultural Relations and Processes at the University of Molise (Italy), where she also teaches English. Her dissertation deals with the meaning of the concept of democracy when translated into other languages and cultures and her research interests include the political aspects of translation, democracy and translation, cultural translation and intercultural communication.
Philip Rizk is a filmmaker, writer and activist based in Cairo, Egypt. He is a member of the Mosireen Collective and tweets at @tabulagaza.
Neil Sadler holds an MA in Translation Studies from the University of Manchester, UK and is currently studying for a PhD in Translation and Intercultural Studies at the same institution. His doctoral research explores the extent to which narratological approaches can be employed to describe and analyse multilingual, fragmented narratives on Twitter. In addition to his doctoral research, Neil recently completed a period of research with the Egyptian anti-sexual harassment organisation HarassMap. This research will ultimately be published in an article exploring the role of generic narratives and storytelling in sustaining and challenging dominant social attitudes to sexual harassment in Egypt.
Sherene Seikaly is Assistant Professor of history at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Previously, she was Assistant Professor of history and Director of the Middle East Studies Center at the American University in Cairo. She is the co-editor of the Arab Studies Journal, and co-founder and editor of Jadaliyya e-zine. She holds a doctorate in history and Middle Eastern and Islamic studies from New York University. Situated at the intersections of studies on consumption, political economy, and colonialism, Seikaly’s forthcoming book, Bare Needs: Palestinian Capitalists and British Colonial Rule explores how Palestinian capitalists and British colonial officials used economy to shape notions and experiences of territory, nationalism, the home, and the body.
Bahia Shehab is Associate Professor of Professional Practice and Director of the Graphic Design programme at the American University in Cairo. She has developed and launched the new graphic design unit for the Department of the Arts with courses mainly focused on visual culture of the Arab world. Her artwork has been on display in exhibitions and galleries worldwide, including China, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, UAE and the US. Her book, A Thousand Times NO: The Visual History of Lam-Alif, was published in 2010. She is a 2012 TED Global Fellow and was selected as one of BBC’s 100 Women who are changing the world for two consecutive years in 2013 and 2014.
Aslı Takanay is a translator and a researcher. She has a BA in Russian Language and Literature and an MA in Translation Studies from Istanbul University. She is currently a PhD candidate in Translation Studies at Boğaziçi University, studying the interactions between state policies and translation policies in the context of translations of Turkish literature into Russian during the Soviet era. She has been working as a technical and audiovisual translator since 1999 and is a founding member of BILARK.
Stefania Taviano teaches English Translation and Interpreting at the University of Messina, Italy. She has written extensively on theatre translation, contemporary Italian theatre and Italian American performance art. Her latest publications include Translating English as a Lingua Franca (2010) and a special issue of the Interpeter and Translator Trainer entitled English as a Lingua Franca and Translation, as well as several articles on Global Hip Hop. She is currently researching the role of translation in shaping global resistance movements and forms of art such as Hip Hop.
Helen Underhill’s research interests concern the various intersections of learning, education, politics, activism and social change. Her PhD explores political learning during protest and activism, specifically examining the mobilisation of diaspora and transnational activists before, during and since the Egyptian revolution of 2011. The international focus of Helen’s work also allows her to remain connected to researching international development and humanitarianism, and she has supported research for the Chronic Poverty Report and Oxfam. She teaches masters level modules on poverty and development, undergraduate international development and political theory, and works as an academic writing tutor.
Mark R. Westmoreland currently serves as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Media Studies at Stockholm University and is co-editor of the scholarly journal Visual Anthropology Review. After several years as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo, next year he will take the post of Associate Professor in Visual Anthropology at Leiden University. His research examines the production of alternative visualities in the contemporary Middle East and how local image practices mediate emergent cultural imaginaries, subvert the geopolitical gaze, and envision the region anew. He is currently completing a book project entitled Catastrophic Images, which shows how experimental documentary practices play a crucial role in addressing recurrent political violence in Lebanon. He has published widely on this topic in both scientific journals and art catalogues and is also an award winning documentary filmmaker.
Nariman Youssef is generally in the business of words and particularly interested in the practice and theory of translation. Her translation work has covered a novel dealing with the war on Iraq, the controversial 2012 Egyptian constitution draft, the arabisation of a digital archives catalogue at the British Library, and poetry translated from Arabic for a number of anthologies. Her personal response to the first days of the Egyptian revolution was published as part of the e-book series “Brain Shots: Summer of Unrest” (Random House, 2011). Nariman lives and works between Egypt and the UK.
Federico Zanettin is Professor of English Language and Translation at the Department of Political Sciences, the University of Perugia, Italy. He has published widely on various aspects of translation research, including the translation of graphic novels. He has long been involved in the campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions initiated by Palestinian civil society in response to ongoing Israeli aggression, and is keen to develop an activist angle that can complement his research interests.
Changing Frames and Fault-lines
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Give me but one firm spot on which to stand, and I will move the earth.
Archimedes (on the Law of Levers)
The story of the Egyptian revolution carries a heavy burden. Its many tales travel across contexts and experience, within Egypt and beyond it, influencing movements and revolutions while building dreams and threatening them. Solidarity fundamentally entails sharing an interpretation of a story. How that story is told and re-told has political and historical implications that are as much about the current moment as they are about the future. Political events are hard to follow at the best of times and solidarity is broken when the thread of a story is lost or events within it become subject to confusingly competing narratives. Meanwhile, a revolution is in itself a radical break with old political frameworks and the interpretations of possibility and the present they represent. And like any story, the longer it gets the more complicated it becomes. At stake is not only solidarity within the Egyptian revolution itself, but also a story of change and how it happens, or might.
Over the past four years I have worked with a range of forms and collaborators to engage in telling many of the stories of the Egyptian revolution, translating experiences and perspectives between a diverse range of contexts and audiences. With each form and each language, each event and each audience, comes a framework within which those stories can be told and shared – some infrastructural, some political, some legal, some linguistic. In this presentation I will reflect on what I see as the fault lines in translating events between contexts and the interpretative lapses that threaten meaningful solidarity. I will also reflect on strategies that have been used to attempt to bridge some of these gaps, giving my reading of certain successes and failures, while asking how to adapt and re-strategise amidst a period of extraordinary struggle and change.
Text and Context: Translating in a State of Emergency
Samah Selim, Rutgers University, USA
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This presentation will explore the problems associated with activist translating in revolutionary historical moments like the one that began in Egypt in 2011. Using my experience working as a subtitler with the radical video collective Mosireen in 2012/13, I want to reflect on how the process and experience of translating in a state of emergency – when the state mobilizes its arsenal of violence on the streets – profoundly shapes how we think about terms like profession and objectivity, and about the roles of both translator and audience in building effective cross-border virtual solidarity networks in real time.
I also want to broadly distinguish between what I see as the two closely related and equally urgent modes of political translating work described above; crisis and building. While the former is defined by transposable and widely-circulating spectacles of violence and resistance, the latter seeks to mobilize the broadest possible array of socially embedded source texts (tracts, statements, press conferences, testimonies, manifestos, analysis) in order to fully territorialize the spectacle and give it political meaning. I will argue that building effective and sustainable international solidarity networks absolutely depends on this kind of multi-directional territorializing translation work, particularly at this time when militant popular movements are exploding across the globe.
Alexandria and Activism: Translating Memory, Mythology and Utopianism
Amro Ali, University of Sydney
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One of the long-standing fears of Alexandrian activism has been the eclipsing of its people’s local struggles by a Cairo-centric narrative – an issue that is further aggravated by limited bilingualism among the coastal city’s middle class revolutionaries, which makes connecting with international audiences more difficult. Apart from efforts to attract domestic attention to the city’s struggles, a peculiar form of Alexandrian activism evolved that employs the city’s namesake, history and popular culture to attract national and international attention to the issues affecting its urban terrain. This is evident in revolutionary graffiti that makes reference to Alexander the Great and Ancient Alexandria, and in the growth of civic groups that contrast their present problems with a by-gone era of utopian cosmopolitanism and indulge in various forms of nostalgia, symbolised by images such as the Pharos lighthouse or a mermaid.
This trend can be traced back to the 1990s struggle between the state and Alexandria over identity formation. The Egyptian state constructed a discourse of utopianism revolving around Alexandria’s ancient past and the city’s cosmopolitanism of the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century. This was motivated by a wish to brandish the regime’s ‘progressive’ and ‘democratic’ credentials for the benefit of international audiences, fight the Islamist utopian mode of thinking that was beginning to make serious inroads, symbolise a significant break with the Nasserist past, and employ a cultural mask of universalism to disguise the neoliberal policies spearheaded by the Alexandria governorate. Rarely did any of this address the city’s deep-seated problems, and centralisation – a common Alexandrian grievance – took its toll over the decades, resulting in a disembowelled public sphere.
Activists appropriated a variety of narratives and symbols to ‘translate’ and communicate their specific concerns to a wider audience, escape the shadow of the heavyweight capital, and establish a common ground with diaspora and foreign audiences who spotlighted, and sometimes co-worked on, texts and videos with Alexandrians to amplify their story to the world. This produced creative methods of revolutionary activity, drew modest research and journalistic interest to the coastal city, and started a slow process of democratising the activist field. A highly utopian language enabled activists to draw inspiration from and chart their own understanding of ‘The Revolution Continues’ vernacular maxim by devising daily strategies and tactics that can function as alternatives to protesting on the street, which now carried a high risk of imprisonment.
Translation and Solidarity in Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution
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Translation has been an integral part of Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution from its very first stages. Subtitling the speech of the women interviewed into a variety of languages is not just an issue of disseminating information and making their unique experiences accessible to as many people as possible, but is part of a broad expression of political commitment that assumes different forms. First and foremost, it is part of a wider post-colonial and feminist commitment to allowing the subjects themselves to shape their own voices and representations. Speaking in Arabic, the women translate their first hand experiences into a discourse that counters the widespread appropriation of the voices of both women and people of colour. These voices have traditionally been constrained and distorted by patriarchal, xenophobic and racist interpretations and streamlined into simplistic generalizations that oscillated between imposition and exoticism. Making subtitles into a wide range of languages an integral part of the project is a further step towards empowering Egyptian women by connecting them to networks of rebellion across borders. Subtitles constitute a tool that extends the messages of empowerment to other locales, makes local political struggles visible to other protest movements, and further fosters international networking and solidarity. This contribution will offer a critical account of both levels of translation as they evolved in Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution.
The Translation of Protests and Movements across Time, Space and Culture
Cristina Flesher Fominaya, University of Aberdeen, Scotland
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Protests and movements in one place can inspire and influence people far beyond the point of origin, with unexpected and impossible to predict consequences. In this talk I will draw on examples from the recent wave of anti-austerity and pro-democracy movements to describe some of these processes across not only space but also time, to show how transmitters and adopters must work hard to effect a process of movement translation across contexts, how these processes are not always successful and why, and how ideas, practices and repertoires can take on a life of their own.
Translating Rebellion: From Local Protests to Global Uprisings
Since 2011, streets and squares across the world have become the site of massive demonstrations, strikes, occupations, riots, rebellions, and revolutions. From the Arab uprisings to the movement of the squares in Southern Europe, and from there to the global Occupy movement and the recent uprisings in Turkey and Brazil, people everywhere have been rising up against the power of governments, corporations and repressive regimes, representing a global legitimation crisis that has affected authoritarian regimes and liberal democracies alike.
While mainstream media, filmmakers, sociologists, and writers have often worked to explain the local contexts for the rebellions, many have not adequately attempted to try to connect them in their global economic and political context. Many instead have chosen to view the Arab uprisings as simply people fighting for Western-style democracy or the European movements as purely anti-austerity protests or the protests in Brazil and Turkey as fights against urbanization projects.
However, the neo-liberal policies that became globalized over the last four decades led to the transformation of the world political economy and connected populations in a manner often unreported and the timing of the wave of rebellion over the last few years coincided with a breakdown of both neoliberal capitalism and representative democracy.
In many cases, protesters related to other movements much more than to the ruling figures within their own countries. The symbols, tactics, and motivations for going to the streets translated easily across geographic and political boundaries.
This audio/visual presentation will focus on showing how the recent uprisings and protests are connected through the global political economy and how movements have bridged the divide of national boundaries using shared symbols, slogans, memes, tactics, and ideals.