Eight new Innovation Awards to explore Translating Cultures

In a world increasingly characterized by globalized connections, the need to understand communication within and across cultures is crucial. The AHRC today announced eight new Innovation Awards which – through the study of diverse historical, geographical and social contexts – will make important contributions to broad questions about our understanding of ourselves and others in the contemporary world.

The new projects will be delivered through the AHRC’s Translating Cultures theme which considers the role of translation, understood in its broadest sense, in the transmission, interpretation, transformation and sharing of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives.

  • Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations, Dr Rajendra Chitnis, University of Bristol

This project creates the opportunity for the first sustained comparative analysis of how, through translation, the contemporary literatures of small European nations endeavour to reach the cultural mainstream.

  • Child language brokering: Spaces of belonging and mediators of cultural knowledge, Dr Sarah Crafter, Institute of Education

This project will explore the previously invisible work of child interpreters by researching how cultural knowledge and identities are mediated by language brokering and by producing a documentary film and web exhibition to enhance awareness of the valuable contribution made by young language brokers.

  • Translating science for young people, Professor Alice Deignan, University of Leeds

This project is concerned with how state-of-the-art scientific knowledge is translated or mistranslated in texts accessed by young people aged 11-16. Information translation across genres may result in distortion which may impact on future understanding and, in the case of issues like climate change, even affect patterns of behaviour.

  • The Art of Cultural Exchange: Translation and Transformation between the UK and Brazil 2014-16, Professor Paul Heritage, Queen Mary, University of London

This research will investigate cultural exchange as an act of translation. With a focus on UK exchanges with arts organisations in Rio de Janeiro, it will consider the transformations sought through the exchange of artists, artistic production and artistic methodologies. The project will analyse how innovations in the social technologies of the arts seek to translate the city and transform lives.

  • Translating cultures and the legislated mediation of indigenous rights in Peru, Professor Rosaleen Howard, Newcastle University

This project will examine issues of cross-cultural communication of the law in negotiations that are taking place between the state and indigenous populations of Peru. It will use linguistics to reveal to what extent translation in contexts of mediation is achieving its aim of harmonious relations in a postcolonial society while allowing sustainable economic development.

  • Conversion, Translation and the Language of Autobiography: Re-inventing the Self in Transitions to Christianity in India (1700-1947), Dr Hephzibah Israel, University of Edinburgh

This project addresses the question of how translation serves to transform ideas and knowledge about religious belief and conversion between geographical locations, historical moments and cultural contexts. Arguing that translation is intrinsic to the way religions began to be viewed, compared and categorized in the South Asian context, the project will bring a fresh approach to the study of Indian religions by examining how Indians have self-represented religious conversion and identity through autobiographical writings and translations.

  • Translating the Deaf Self, Professor Jemina Napier, Heriot-Watt University

Through an interdisciplinary, mixed-methods, qualitative research design, this study will pioneer a new exploration of translation and deaf culture. The study aims to inform theories on translation, identity and well being, and will trial a new methodology for conducting research with visual languages.

  • From Dark Tourism to Phoenix Tourism: The Ethics of Cultural Translation in Urban Festivals, Professor Margaret Topping, Queen’s University, Belfast

The cultural transformation of the 2013 UK City of Culture (Derry-Londonderry) was symptomatic of a shift from “dark tourism” to “phoenix tourism” in Northern Ireland. Yet there are ethical tensions between the competing imperatives of a commercially-driven projection of a positive sense of place, and community-driven self-fashioning in the wake of conflict. This project explores cultural translation in cases of “festivalization” with specific reference to West Belfast’s Féile an Phobail.

Professor Charles Forsdick, Theme Leadership Fellow for the Translating Cultures theme, said:

“These awards will bring innovative insights across the many and varied areas encompassed by the Translating Cultures theme. They will change our understanding of the ways in which translation is constitutive of culture, and also central to the circulation of ideas and the development of new knowledge. Each will engage in innovative ways with partners to interpret our rapidly changing world.”

For more information contact Alex Pryce (AHRC) on 01793 41 6025 or a.pryce@ahrc.ac.uk


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