Northwestern Events Calendar


TRANSLATING FOR A WRONG DONE: Theorizing Translation as Epistemic Reparation

When: Wednesday, November 2, 2022
5:00 PM - 6:30 PM CT

Where: Crowe Hall, 1132, 1860 Campus Drive, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: $0

Contact: Phil Hoskins   (847) 491-3864

Group: Critical Theory

Category: Academic


TRANSLATING FOR A WRONG DONE: Theorizing Translation as Epistemic Reparation

A lecture by 

ANGELO VANNINI, Collège International de Philosophie, Paris

Co-sponsored by the Comparative Literary Studies Program and Department of French & Italian


This talk takes up the relationship between translation and reparation, considering translation as a form of epistemic reparation. This perspective considers translation not merely as a linguistic and textual process, but also as capable of producing epistemic effects on differently located subjectivities. This reveals the limits of the hermeneutic paradigm through which translation is often framed, on the basis of which I propose a new theoretical framework for conceptualizing epistemic injustice in translation.

To engage translation and reparation, I consider a counterfactual case, the controversy between the translator, author and publisher of the recent Italian translation of the book-length poem Zong! by NourbeSe Philip. Philip’s poetry has an eminently reparative function. Its composition, structure and modes of reception respond to colonial erasure and the violence of slavery. Missing this, the Italian translation fails its original. How can we understand the non-translation of the reparative dimension of the text? As a matter of intentional neglect, or Eurocentric assumption in translation? Does the obliteration of this dimension also constitute a betrayal of the reparative vocation intrinsic to translation itself? Is it possible to think in general terms of a reparative vocation of translation? 

Following the Lecture…

There will be 4 brief responses from graduate students: 

--Bellamy Mitchell (UChicago, Social Thought and Poetics)
--Maria Romanova (Northwestern, CLS)
--Ishan Mehandru (Northwestern, CLS)
--Dominique Codjia (Northwestern, Philosophy)

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