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The politics and geopolitics of translation: the multilingual circulation of knowledge and transnational histories of geography

Call for papers – Terra Brasilis Journal – 2020

Guilherme Ribeiro, Laura Péaud and Archie Davies (Editors)

In the last fifty years, the field of the history of geography has moved from an approach dominated by National Schools to an attention to the circulation of knowledge in its multiple scales. The history of science and of geography have in the last decades incorporated concepts such as transit, networks, mobilities, the transnational, circulation, centre of calculation, spaces of knowledge, geographies of science, spatial mobility of knowledge, geographies of reading and geographies of the book (Latour 1987; Ophir & Shapin 1991; Shapin 1998; Livingstone 2003; Secord 2004; Meusburger, Livingstone & Jöns 2010; Keighren 2010; Jöns, Meusberg & Heffernan 2017). More recently, a turn has emerged towards considering the dynamics and necessities of decolonizing the history of geography (Craggs & Neate, 2019). This work is turning the field of the history of geography into one of the most dynamic areas of the discipline. Yet we suggest that questions of language and translation have remained under-determined in this new field. Translation and writing have not received the same attention as, for instance, departmental histories, sites of museums, laboratories, botanic gardens, and scientific societies, for example. We suggest, therefore, that new perspectives opened up by translation studies can open new windows on the history of geography. In general terms, the history of the Human Sciences have neglected the breadth and extent of the role of translation (Schulte 1992; Bachmann-Medick 2009). This begins from recognizing the singularity of translation, and rejecting the idea that it is merely a process of copying (Venuti 2004, 2009, 2013). Thus, if we are interested on how ideas, authors, and books travel, we cannot ignore the presence of language and translation.

Given its ethical, political, and geopolitical content (Spivak 2004 [1993]; Cassin 2018 [2004], 2018; Ricoeur 2004; Mignolo 2012), the amnesia over translation is more grave because language and translation have been active processes in promoting scientific hierarchies through periodicals, research networks, congresses, and books. The hierarchical relationship between language worlds has led to some works being designated as central, and others as peripheral to knowledge production. Translation is a key vector in the academic division of labor. From this angle, both plurilingualism and translations are phenomena that could be explain in terms of dominant and dominated languages — Latin and French in the past, English nowadays (Casanova 2015). Joining geographers from different nationalities the role of translation and the effects of the English language on academic publications have been examined by a stimulating litterature (Minca 2000; Wright 2002; Cameron 2003; Garcia-Ramon 2003; Aalbers 2004; Desbiens & Ruddick 2006; Müller 2007; Houssay-Holzschuh et Milhaud 2013 ; Novaes 2015; Germes & Husseini de Araújo 2016; Gyuris 2018). While these issues effect English native speakers in different ways, it is also worth highlighting the fractures within Global English itself, and the hierarchical practices inscribed in different modes of speaking and writing within one language. In practice, however, the criteria established by rankings, awards, and funding end up directing academic capital to papers and networks in the English language and in Anglo-saxon and European universities. The hegemony of English makes it difficult to question the canon (Keighren, Abrahamsson & della Dora 2012), or to focus attention on other geographical traditions (Ferretti 2019). This state of things needs to be questioned in order to explore the dimensions of linguistic circuits and the resistance and fissures within Anglophone hegemony.

Recognizing that these matters continue to elicit work by geographers around the world, and encouraging their exploration from different locations and perspectives, we introduce the special issue The politics and geopolitics of translation: the multilingual circulation of knowledge and transnational histories of geography proposed by Terra Brasilis – Revista da Rede Brasileira de História da Geografia e Geografia Histórica. The journal has been translating classic and contemporary geographers since its refoundation in 2012 and now seeks a wider conversation on translation, language, and circulation.

We invite papers addressing the following questions:

1. The politics and geopolitics of translation and its effects on the production of geographical knowledge

The special issue seeks to question:

- The spatial dynamics and forms of translation in geography

- Les traductions en zones frontalières

- Translation in the border zones

- The circulation of knowledge produced by the work of translating

- Actors and networks of translation in geography

- The effects of domination and hegemony made visible through translation

- The intersections between gender and translation, and feminist theories of translation

2. Publications, readers and writings in the light of the transnational history of geography

Here the themes could be as follows:

- Hierarchies and asymmetries around the production of geographical knowledge in different languages

- The coloniality of geographical knowledge

postcolonialism and postcolonialiy of geographical knowledge: the role of language in the search for alternatives

- Communication, muteness, and exchanges in the “international” conferences of geography

- Experiences of teaching and research on multilingualism

- Individuals, networks, travels, artifacts: transnational histories of geography

3. Language, geography and intersectionality

Cross-cutting questions can also be envisaged, favoring an approach by minorities:

- Translation and writing in geography: issues of gender, race and class

- The place of the Global South in the linguistic politics

- Histories of translation and geography from the Global South: archives, journals, institutions

Information for authors

Languages: Portuguese, Spanish, English, French

Deadline: 20th August 2020

Size: until 12 thousand words or 30 pages

Formatting: Times New Roman 12, space between paragraphes 1,5. More informations:

Email from editors: Guilherme Ribeiro [], Laura Péaud [], Archie Davies [] and Terra Brasilis []. Please send to all four email adresses.


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