A spectre is haunting history – the spectre of translation
(with apologies to Karl Marx and Jacques Derrida)

The History and Translation Network addresses all scholars and practitioners who are interested in how history is entangled with translation and translation with history.

(A) We argue that:

  1. acts of translation and interpretation play a crucial role in the making of history, and historical context is essential to our understanding of these acts;
  2. there is no such thing as a universal history of translation; but every translation is grounded in history;
  3. historical writing is an interpretation and interpretation is a form of translation;
  4.  translation is not a transparent linguistic act.

(B) Based on the premise that there is no history without translation and no translation without history, we think that each field of inquiry can enhance the other, because they both:

  • seek to make sense of the past based on the rigorous analysis of evidence;
  • examine the ways in which language itself is inscribed in history, and engage with subjects of discourse, power, and asymmetrical relations.

(C) We seek to:

  • promote an approach in which translation is both a constitutive category of historical analysis and a historically specific practice; 
  • historicize not only the object of our research but also the conceptual categories we use;
  • address history from a transnational and comparative perspective; and to bring together scholars who adopt these kinds of approaches.

Why now? The History and Translation Network is a response to the increasing importance of translation and interpreting history, both within TIS and in historical studies. In the last 10 years there has been a marked growth in interest in historical research on translation and interpreting and the theoretical and methodological issues it raises. This is also evident in the increasing use in other disciplines of translation as a metaphor or paradigm.

Who is it for? We aim to involve researchers and practitioners from all the regions of the world, from all intellectual and cultural traditions, and from a wide range of disciplinary and institutional backgrounds, such as: translation and interpreting studies, history, literary studies, cultural studies, sociology, comparative studies, philology and languages, anthropology, religion, international relations, philosophy, archive studies, museum studies, and any other field in which a transnational and comparative perspective is relevant.