Call for Papers 2 – Synthesis Vol. 4

Call for papers: “Translation and Authenticity in a Global Setting” – Synthesis Vol. 4 (2011)

SYNTHESIS –  A refereed journal of literature and culture

For more info on Synthesis, click here

Special issue on: “Translation and Authenticity in a Global Setting”
Dionysios Kapsaskis and Lucile Desblache (issue editors)

For centuries, the history of translation in the West has been entangled with the problematic of authenticity. On the one hand, in the context of nationalism and colonialism, translation has been used to promote mythologies of coherence, identity and supremacy. On the other hand, the thinking of translation, especially in the 20th century, led to the critical interrogation of authenticity, homogeneity and originality.

The ambivalent role of translation in both establishing and destabilizing notions of authenticity has also permeated Western translation theory. Much of the theoretical discussion on translation has revolved around the idea of equivalence with the original text, thus perpetuating metaphors of fidelity, treason and loss. More recently, however, less essentialist approaches (e.g. cultural, systemic, sociological) have been exploring the role of translation in the construction of subjective or collective identities (ethnic, literary, sexual and so on.)

This ambivalence is perhaps symptomatic of a field whose widespread practical applications challenge the unity of its theoretical implications. Never was this more the case than in the present age of global interconnections. The map of translation is today the map of global flows, encounters and geopolitics. Going far beyond linguistic mediation, and involving new realities of technology, mobility and multimodality, translation is simultaneously a means of global acculturation and a tool for local empowerment. It lends audibility to “peripheries” and “minorities” at the same time as it helps consolidate various types of “hegemony” in politics, literature, the law, and elsewhere. Arguably, then, translation continues to be enframed within the conceptual enclosure of authenticity. Whether it is to claim national or historical singularity for specific communities or to rephrase all singularities in terms of a global “home”, translation remains situated in the space between uniqueness and universality.

This issue aims to reflect on the critical function of translation in the current globalized topology, with particular attention to issues of authenticity and global/local identity. Articles are invited on one or more of the following topics/questions but need not be limited to them:

• The politics of translation: How is translation used today to portray the migrant /peripheral/contingent in terms of the domestic/central/universal and vice-versa?

• The space of translation: Does translation as practice or theory create a space where the notion of authenticity can be negotiated and perhaps transcended?

• Forms of translation: Beyond literary translation, do other forms of translation, for instance interpreting in zones of war, offer more scope to reflect on its critical role today?

• Translation and globalisation: Is there a paradigm shift in the way we understand translation today? Is translation a paradigmatic discipline for the age of globalisation?

• Translation and border-crossing: A metaphor for interdisciplinarity in arts and the academe and/or a reality for migrants and refugees?

• (Un)translatability: Is the current assumption that everything is translatable? Is universal translatability globalisation’s answer to a 20th-century sense of the ineffability of the singular?

Detailed proposals (800-1000 words) for (6,000-7,000 word) articles as well as any inquiries regarding this issue should be sent by email to both Issue Editors: Dionysios Kapsaskis and Lucile Desblache ( Please send a short bio together with your proposal.


30 November 2010 submission of abstracts
30 January 2011 notification of acceptance
30 September 2011 submission of articles

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