15 September 2022
31 May 2023
Special Issue Editor(s)
Nasrin Ashrafi, KU Leuven
Diana Roig-Sanz, ICREA and IN3-UOC
Reine Meylaerts, KU Leuven
Relational thinking and Translation Studies: An interdisciplinary dialogue
The aim of this special issue is to reflect upon the intersection of Translation Studies (TS) and the contemporary relational theorizing of society, culture, and persons and to go beyond narrow interlingual conceptualization of translation by highlighting its procedural nature, and inherent potential in cultural and social theory. As such, relational thinking, which has deep roots in the social sciences, seeks to analyze the concept of agency/structure as a relational rather than individual, and it focuses on connections between interactants; that is, networks of relations and interdependencies, both interpersonal and impersonal, in which interactants and their joint actions are embedded (Emirbayer 1997, Crossley 2011, Donati 2011, Powell & Dépelteau, 2013; Depelteau, 2018).
A relational worldview privileges relations rather than things, in this sense, the terms and units involved in any transaction derive their meaning, significance, and identity from the changing roles they play within that transaction. That is to say, interdependency and interconnectedness have repeatedly been conceptualized and visualized through the concept of network that traces relationships in the emergence or development of social or cultural phenomena. Further, the fast-developing field of network analysis, social network analysis (SNA) in particular, offers a wealth of tools for the analysis of the structure (centrality, functional role, triadic closure, community) and dynamics (information diffusion, robustness) of the networked system built on top social relationships, with revealing applications in Art, History and Cultural Studies (Schich, 2014; Park, 2015; Sigaki, 2018), and also in TS ( Buzelin and Folaron, 2007; Ashrafi, 2018; Roig-Sanz and Subirana, 2020; Risku, 2016). Mapping networks of relations allows non-reductionist contextualized analysis of the individual’s actions (micro), the relationships (meso) that are established or built, and the emergent structures (macro) in the guise of patterns of interactions. Thus, in the wake of a relational approach, we might ask, how do networks structure relationships? or, how do relationships manipulate networks for their own purposes? or, how do relationships emerge and evolve? Our point is not only that those individuals (actors) are formed within and are thus inseparable from interactions and relations, but also, in a more semiotically-informed vein, that we can identify translational mechanisms within interactions, relations and networks which help to explain and understand events in the social world.
From a translational perspective, the embedded and relational character of a translation phenomenon lends itself well to theorizing relational networks of heterogeneous actors (actants). The prominent example of such an approach is the concept of Translation in Latour’s actor-network theory and relational ethnography of Desmond (2014), which involves studying fields rather than places, boundaries rather than bounded groups, processes rather than processed people, and cultural conflict rather than group culture. In this sense, translation as a boundary phenomenon can provide conceptual and methodological insights contributing to “culture as translation” (Wolf, 2014).
We particularly welcome papers that draw upon a methodological and/or conceptual dialogue between the relational approach and TS. We can illustrate this most effectively by simply asking: How does Translation as a meaning-making/taking activity contribute to the emergence of the social? (See Marais’s semiotic approach, 2019).
We anticipate that this exploration will open up new avenues for exploring future directions and prospects in interdisciplinary research in TS. With this ultimate goal in mind, we will welcome both theoretical and methodological reflections, as well as papers based on empirical approaches. Topics that could be addressed include, but are not limited to:
• Rethinking the basic sociological/translational concepts of structure, agency, habitus, or norms through the lens of relational approach in a translational context
• The conceptual/methodological contributions of TS to relational sociology
• The role of translational networks/interactions/relations in the emergence of cultures and/or societies
• Rethinking world translation flows and the marginal and/or peripheral cultures/societies
• Rethinking the relational context of (forced) migration as a translational practice
• Rethinking poetics and repertoire as relational constructs
• The significance of networks of relations/interactions in reinforcing /challenging or emergence of a translation policy
• Methodological reflections on the relational embeddedness of a translational practice
• The intersection of activist practices (feminism among them), translation, and relational epistemology
For more details, see this website.