Estonia 1850-2010: Texts, Agents, Institutions and Practices

Daniele Monticelli’s Keynote Speech at the Conference “Nothing Happened: Translation Studies before James Holmes”

Daniele Monticelli gave a keynote speech during the conference “Nothing Happened: Translation Studies before James Holmes” held in UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (9–10 November).

Participants and organizers of the conference: Iryna Odrekhivska,Theo Hermans, Hephzibah Israel, Daniele Monticelli and Kathryn Batchelor.

Here is the abstract of the speech:

On the advantages of peripheries: Juri Lotman and translation studies

In recent years we have been witnessing a growing discontent about the canonical reconstruction of the origins and development of Translation and Interpreting Studies (TIS) as an academic (inter)discipline. Scholars have contested the Euro- or Western-centric orientation of TIS and advocated for a more inclusive and comprehensive understanding, highlighting the lack of critical reflection on the historiograhy of the discipline. My talk will propose a conceptualization of this debate from an epistemological, genealogical and geopolitical perspective. I will particularly focus on the recent discussions on “academic decolonization” in Eastern European and Slavic studies, its potentialities and shortcomings and their implications for TIS. The second part of my talk will explore one of the neglected loci of translation knowledge in Eastern Europe: Juri Lotman’s understanding of translation as a general cultural mechanism and the Tartu’s school of semiotics. This will allow me to argue for a situated and contextualized approach to translation knowledge, bringing to the fore the relations between history, life and theory as well as between cultural and academic centers and peripheries in the Eastern European context.