Date 12 - 14 October 2017
Venue University of Trier, Germany
Organisation Research Network “Trans

Cross-border connections and global interdependencies have usually been seen as an opportunity to develop shared repertoires of global or transnational knowledge and a cosmopolitan world view. At the same time, however, frictions, conflicts, and fragmentations within processes of the global and transnational translation of knowledge have increasingly come to the fore. Yet the question of why transnational connectivity does not systematically produce shared knowledge has still to be examined. The trans-disciplinary conference "Transnationalisation and knowledge: the ubiquity of translation and the crisis it faces" picks up on this desideratum. It asks how, in what conditions and with what consequences knowledge is produced, negotiated and put at risk during transnationalisation.

Increasing sensitivity to the diversity and conflict between different systems of knowledge, their histories and claims to validity has shifted the focus to the national (or regional, cultural or ethnic) contexts in which knowledge has developed, and raised doubts as to whether knowledge can be transferred to other contexts. In connection with developments in translation studies, the trans-lation of knowledge is no longer seen as simply swapping one signifier for another with an identical meaning. Investigations within literary and cultural studies on the transfer and circulation of liter-ary and other texts, referring to the inseparability of form and content, make a similar point. Trans-lation is thus becoming a ubiquitous phenomenon, while at the same time increasing attention is being paid to conflicts (real and potential) between different knowledge systems, communication problems between actors from different social worlds and failed translations.

In recent years, studies on the transnationalisation of social life (ranging from new forms of mi-gration to the growth of global concerns and political infrastructures, the circulation of regulatory programmes and cross-border social movements) have mainly investigated cross-border practices and the emergence of new transnational social spaces. A critical re-reading of these studies reveals that the “transnationalisation of knowledge” within these spaces can be analysed as translation processes which are beset with conflict and permeated with power. The prefix “trans-” covers up these conflicts rather than revealing them. Instead, power differentials in these translation pro-cesses are analysed from a post-colonial point of view, demonstrating that translations are pro-duced, legitimised, constructed and deconstructed in heterogeneous social spheres. The key as-pect of this (potentially productive) crisis within translation is that the very possibility of successful translation is formulated as a problem.

The insight into the conflicts between different knowledge systems and the problematic transla-tion between these systems raises important questions about claims to the validity of knowledge: it is in fact another expression of the crisis facing our understanding of knowledge itself. The de-construction of that understanding now seems to have extended to the theoretical framework which enabled us to contemplate a shared understanding of the world, ourselves and cross-border communication. The concepts of cosmopolitanism (Beck), humanism (Said) or the universe of dis-course (Geertz) are based on the idea that we can distinguish between knowledge on one hand and an interest in dominance and submission on the other. They form a narrative which is, how-ever, being called into question by the crisis described here, affecting translation in the context of transnational activities. This is increasingly casting doubt on the potential of translation, seen as the basis for communication and the route to joint achievements in the context of civilisations.

The aim of this transdisciplinary conference is to spark discussion between sociology, pedagogy and literary studies, revealing not only the many layers of this crisis within the translation of knowledge in the context of transnationalisation, but also its various perspectives.

So far, the following have agreed to appear as keynote speakers: Martin Albrow (sociology) and Adrienne Chambon (social work).

This conference will involve several panels and is intended to centre in on the topic of “Transna-tionalisation and Knowledge”. Potential speakers are invited to submit proposals on four sets of topics (see below).

Abstracts should be no more than 500 words in length and may be submitted to info@trans-wissen.de by 31 March 2017.

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