Two workshops in October – kindly hosted by the Institute of Modern Languages Research – allowed groups of researchers funded under the Translating Cultures theme to meet, share ideas and discuss the progress of their work. This opportunity was particularly welcomed by those teams awarded research innovation grants as they prepare to launch their projects. These eight projects respond specifically to priorities identified by the theme’s advisory group, relating to the dynamics and mechanics of ‘translating cultures’. Collectively they will extend the theme’s range of enquiry into geographical areas previously under-represented, such as South America (‘The Art of Cultural Exchange’, and ‘Translating cultures and the legislated mediation of indigenous rights in Peru’), and also permit exploration of new disciplinary intersections, such as that between translation studies and disability studies (‘Translating the Deaf Self’), or between translation and questions of religious belief and conversion (‘Conversion, Translation and the Language of Autobiography’). There is also a considerable emphasis on translation and questions of cultural value, with projects on ‘From Dark Tourism to Phoenix Tourism’ and ‘Translating the Literatures of Small European Nations’. ‘Translating science for young people’ explores the translational dimensions of science communication, and ‘Child language brokering’ highlights the often previously invisible work of child interpreters. This diverse range of projects will not only enhance the visibility of the theme across a range of contexts and subject areas, but also allow considerable development of ‘translating cultures’ as a collaborative intellectual project that continues to address areas of urgent academic and public concern.
A second workshop brought together representatives of the three theme large grant teams, all of which now have their own websites on which their diverse and emerging activity is captured: Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State; Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures; and Translation and translanguaging: Investigating linguistic and cultural transformations in superdiverse wards in four UK cities. The interconnections between these projects are becoming increasingly apparent, and all of them are actively rethinking the place of languages and multilingualism in Arts and Humanities research, and indeed beyond. The large grants are also all contributing to the AHRC’s Being Human Festival, with a range of events including ‘Translating Voice: A workshop and reading with Simon Armitage’ in Birmingham, ‘Language Fest’ in Glasgow, and ‘Migration Lives’ in St Andrews.
‘Translating cultures’ continues to develop collaborations with a range of external partners. Since September, I have delivered a series of presentations on the theme (and also had a chance to meet award holders) at a number of institutions, including Exeter, Kent and UEA. I additionally spoke on ‘translating cultures’ during the Canford Festival in October. The findings of the series of seminars on ‘Making History Work: The value of history and intercultural knowledge in the policy process’, co-organized with the Institute for Government, will be published next month, in time we hope to inform discussions post-REF2014 of the place of the Arts and Humanities in policy-related impact, and a further panel – on ‘Community languages: policy, pedagogy, public understanding’ – is planned with the British Academy as part of the annual BA/Guardian language festival later this month.