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Bearing Across: Translating Literary Narratives of Migration

Monday, 16 September, 2013 - 09:00 to Tuesday, 17 September, 2013 - 19:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Faculty: Arts and Philosophy
Building E - room 0.11
Erasmus University College of Brussels in cooperation with the Free University of Brussels and the University of Antwerp
International Conference

On Monday 16 September and Tuesday 17 September 2013, the Centre for Literary Translation at the Erasmus University College of Brussels organises, in cooperation with the Centre for Literature, Intermediality, and Culture at the Free University of Brussels (VUB) and the Research Group Literature and Modernity of the University of Antwerpan international conference aimed at providing a new understanding of migration as a theoretical concept, analytical category, and lived experience in the study of the translation of migration literature, be it by the authors themselves, or by professional translators.  

The conference will be bringing together scholars from different disciplines such as cultural studies, translation studies, area studies, comparative literature, and anthropology. Through issues such as dwelling and displacement, monolingualism and multilingualism, transnationalism and national identity, this conference seeks to investigate how the translation of narratives of migration – e.g. in German-Turkish, Dutch-Moroccan, French-Algerian, British-Indian literature – engages with and shapes the ongoing redefinition of cultural identities. 

In Imaginary Homelands, Salman Rushdie describes the relationship between migration and translation as follows: “The word ‘translation’ comes, etymologically, from Latin for ‘bearing across’. Having been borne across the world, we are translated men.” (Salman Rushdie, Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 1981-1991. London: Penguin, 1992. 17) The condition of the modern subject as a ‘translated man’ indeed seems to be that of geographical and linguistic border-crossing, between the local and the global. Translation can thus be regarded as a sequence of language practices and an existential situation of migrants dealing with dislocation. Accordingly, this conference focuses, on the one hand, on translation of literary narratives of migration as intralingual transaction  – as cultural translation – that reformulates and reassesses cultural specificities in a new and often alienating way and, on the other hand, as interlingual transaction that applies processes of mediation to issues of agency and communication (cf. Doris Bachmann-Medick). Therefore, this conference focuses basically on two strands: 1. literature by migrant authors, either written in their own language, but ‘translating’ their unfamiliar surroundings, or written in the language predominant in their ‘unfamiliar surroundings’; and 2. literature, written by migrant authors, translated into the language of their actual place of residence or into any other language.

Bearing Across: Translating Literary Narratives of Migration - Conference Programme

Venue: Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels, Building E - room 0.11
Date: 16-17 September 2013

Monday, 16 September 2013


Welcome and Introduction
Arvi Sepp, Philippe Humblé, Gys-Walt Van Egdom, and Inge Arteel, Organizing Committee
Ludovic Pierard, President of the Belgian Chamber of Translators and  Interpreters (CBTI-BKVT)
Pascal Reyntjens, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Office for Belgium and Luxembourg

Keynote Address I
Loredana Polezzi (University of Warwick): "Seas of Words: Translation and Self-Translation across the Atlantic and the Mediterranean"

Coffee Break

Panel I: Translation and Commitment

Chair: Philippe Humblé (Free University of Brussels)
Chantal Wright (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee): “Before Chamisso: The role played by the Munich DaF writing competitions in defining Gastarbeiter- and Migrantenliteratur in the 1980s”
Sonja Lavaert (Free University of Brussels): “All Languages are Jargon – All People are Migrants – Translation as Ethics of Otherness”
Lelanie de Roubaix (Stellenbosch University): “Translation as Ideological Adaptation in the Novels of André Brink”


Panel II: Migration and Belonging

Chair: Thomas Ernst (University of Duisburg-Essen)
Dimitris Asimakoulas (University of Surrey): “Albanian-Greek Identity Through Humour: Translating Migrant Bitter Wit in Gazmend Kapllani’s A Short Border Handbook”
Tiziana Nannavecchia (University of Ottawa): “Translation as a Literary Homecoming: Italian-Canadian Migration Narratives and Their Toilsome Journey Home”
Stella Linn (University of Groningen): “C’est trop auch! How to Convey the Expression of Identity by French Urban Slang Users in Literary Translation”

Coffee Break

Panel III: Self-Translation and Adaptation

Chair: Inge Arteel (Free University of Brussels)
Cristina Vezzaro (Independent Scholar / Translator): “Translating Fouad Laroui: A Journey Through Languages and Cultures”
Alexandra Lopes (Catholic University of Portugal): “Ilse Losa Writes Back. Migration and Self-Translation”
Inés García de la Puente (University of St. Gallen): “The Translations of the Return: A Case Study of Cuando era Puertorriqueña

Coffee Break 

Translators’ Round Table
Moderator: Sigrid Bousset (Passa Porta)
With Cristina Vezzaro, Katelijne De Vuyst, Pierre Geron, and Désirée Schyns (in Co-operation with Passa Porta, International House of Literature in Brussels)

Conference Dinner


 Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Panel IV: Aporias of Displaced Literary Writing

Chair: July De Wilde (Ghent University College / Ghent University)
Elisa Alonso-Jiménez (Universidad Pablo de Olavide): “Francisco Ayala: Migrant Writer and Translator”
Loes van der Voort (Utrecht University):  “I Am Complicated: The Problems of the Migrant’s Hybridity in an Age of War”
Gys-Walt Van Egdom (Free University of Brussels): “Bearing any( )how. Conceptualizing at-homeness in Hafid Bouazza’s ‘De verloren zoon’ and its translations”

Coffee Break

Keynote Address II
Michael Cronin (Dublin City University): “The Company of Strangers: Digital Transnationalism and Migrant Futures”


Panel V: Translating the Self in Autobiography

Chair: Arvi Sepp (University of Antwerp / Free University of Brussels) 
Vivien Bosley (University of Alberta): “Translated Man, Translating Woman”
Marion Winters (Heriot-Watt University):The Effect of Translation on Emigrant Autobiographies”
Michael Jacklin (University of Wollongong): “Translated Lives in Australian ‘Crónicas’”

Coffee Break

Panel VI: Re-Positioning Assimilation and Integration

Chair: Gys-Walt Van Egdom (Free University of Brussels)
Chris Reyns-Chikuma / Isabelle Jadoul (University of Alberta): “Translating Identity : A Challenge Then, a Challenge Today”
Nasima Akaloo (Universidad Carlos III-Madrid): “Translating the Other into 'Spanish' (Self)Representations. A Brief Study of a Selection of Migration Narratives”
Yan Ying (Bangor University): “Positioning Missionaries: A Comparative Study of Jinling Shisan Chai and Nanjing Requiem

Coffee Break

Literary Reading by Hyam Yared, Lebanese poet and novelist, President of PEN Centre Lebanon

Closing Remarks



Keynote speakers

Michael Cronin holds a Personal Chair in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at Dublin City University, Ireland. He is author of Translating Ireland: Translation, Languages and Identity (Cork University Press, 1996); Across the Lines:  Travel, Language, Translation (Cork University Press, 2000);Translation and Globalization (London, Routledge, 2003). Time Tracks: Scenes from the Irish Everyday(Dublin, New Island, 2003. Reprinted 2003); Irish in the New Century/An Ghaeilge san Aois Nua (Dublin, Cois Life, 2005), Translation and Identity (Routledge, 2006); The Barrytown Trilogy (Cork University Press: Ireland into Film series, 2007); Translation goes to the Movies (Routledge 2009); The Expanding World: Towards a Politics of Microspection (Zero Books, 2012) and Translation in the Digital Age (Routledge, 2013). He is co-editor of Tourism in Ireland: A Critical Analysis (Cork University Press, 1993); Anthologie de nouvelles irlandaises (Québec, L’Instant même, 1997); Unity in Diversity? Current Trends in Translation Studies (Manchester, St. Jerome Press, 1998); Reinventing Ireland: Culture, Society and the Global Economy (London, Pluto Press, 2002); Irish Tourism: Image, Culture and Identity (Clevedon, Channel View Publications, 2003);The Languages of Ireland (Dublin, Four Courts Press, 2003); Transforming Ireland, co-edited with Peadar Kirby and Debbie Ging (Manchester University Press, 2009. He is an Honorary Member of the Irish Translators and Interpreters Association and a Member of the Royal Irish Academy. He is Editor in Chief of the translation journal MTM and a co-editor of The Irish Review. He is Series Editor for the New Perspectives in Translation Studies published by Routledge. He is a recipient of the Vinay Darbelnet Prize, the Prix du Québec and is an Officier in the Ordre des Palmes Académiques.


Loredana Polezzi is Associate Professor (Reader) in Italian Studies at the University of Warwick (UK) and Academic Director of the Warwick Centre in Venice. She studied at the Universities of Siena (Italy) and the University of Warwick. Her main research interests are in translation studies, comparative literature, and the history of travel writing, and she has published widely in these fields. Her recent work focuses on how geographical and social mobilities are connected to the theories and practices of translation and self-translation. In 2006-2007, together with Jennifer Burns, she organized a series of workshops and conferences devoted to “Mobility and Identity Formation: An Interdisciplinary Approach to the ‘Italian Case’”, sponsored by the “Diasporas, Migration & Identities” scheme of the Arts and Humanities Research Council. She is the author of Translating Travel: Contemporary Italian Travel Writing in English Translation (Aldershot & Brookfield: Ashgate, 2001) and co-editor of Fuzzy Boundaries? Modern Languages and the Humanities (London: CILT, 2001), Borderlines: Migrazioni e identità nel Novecento (Isernia: Cosmo Iannone Editore, 2003), and In Corpore: Bodies in Post-Unification Italy (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson, 2007). She guest-edited special issues of The Translator (‘Translation, Travel, Migration’, Autumn 2006), Studies in Travel Writing (‘Travel Writing and Italy’, June 2012, with Sharon Ouditt) and Textus (‘Travel Writing and the Shape of the World’, December 2012, with Elio Di Piazza). Her articles have appeared in journals such as Italian Studies, Fogli di anglistica, Modern Italy, MLR, Romance Studies, Semicerchio, The Translator, as well as numerous collective volumes. She is currently completing a study of representations of Africa produced by Italian travellers during the colonial and postcolonial period.


Campus Accommodation

Guests can check in from 4 pm onwards and can check out until 10 am. Keys can be collected and brought back at the security desk (open 24/7, phone number: +32 (0)2 629 21 76), which can be found at the entrance of building E (right in front of the student restaurant). It is not possible to have breakfast in the rooms, but guests can have breakfast in the student restaurant on campus (see ‘R’ on campus map). There is no wireless internet in the rooms, but guests can have access to the internet during the conference with a pass word which will be procured.

1. Generaal Jacqueslaan 139: 6 rooms available 

4 single rooms fully equipped with toilet, shower, sink, sitting area, safe and a communal kitchen on the 3rd floor.
price per night: 25 €

2 flats, both equipped with 2 separate beds, toilet, shower, sitting area, safe and a kitchen next to the living room.
price per night: 34 €


2. Triomflaan 19: 10 rooms available

5 double and 5 single rooms, all equipped with toilet, shower, safe, kitchen, tv, telephone and internet.
price per night: 38 € for a double room, 30 € for a single room.

These rooms have been blocked for our conference participants from September 15 to September 18 and are available on a first-come, first-served basis. It is possible, however, to book earlier and/or stay longer if rooms are still available.

For reservations, please contact Gys-Walt Van Egdom at gys-walt.van.egdom@vub.ac.be


Downtown Accomodation

For those who prefer to stay downtown, the following hotels offer special VUB rates:


Atlas Hotel Brussels

Oudegraanmarkt 30

1000 Brussels, Belgium

Single room: € 121.00 per night during the week and € 79.00 week-end

Double room: € 139.00 per night during the week and € 90.00 week-end


These rates can be booked through: www.atlas-hotel.be


Radisson Blu Royal Hotel Brussels

Rezidor Hotel Brussels S.A.

Rue Fossé aux Loups 47

1000 Brussels, Belgium


Single room: 189 € per night.


This rate can be booked through: www.radissonblu.com/royalhotel-brussels


Full Conference Fee

 Includes conference material, morning refreshments, lunch, coffee breaks on 16 and 17 September 2013 and reception on 17 September 2013.
Delegate - €60
Student and unwaged (including retired) delegate - €50


One-Day Conference Fee

Monday 16th September 2013

Includes conference material, morning refreshments, lunch, and coffee breaks
Delegate - €40
Student and unwaged (including retired) delegate - €30


Tuesday 17th September 2013

Includes conference material, morning refreshments, lunch, coffee breaks, and reception
Delegate - €40
Student and unwaged (including retired) delegate - €30


Extra - Conference Dinner

Delegates can also choose to attend the conference dinner at Le Mess on Monday 16th September 2013: €50 per person (all-in)


Late registration

The registration deadline is 1 September 2013. Delegates registering after this date will be charged a supplementary fee of  €10.


BANK TRANSFER - Bank transfers must be for the total amount due in euro. You must ensure that all bank charges are paid for before payment reaches us, in order to clear the outstanding amount.

Please pay to:


Nijverheidskaai 170
B-1070 Brussels

Swift code GKCCBEBB
Iban number BE85 0962 1858 8006

Please ensure that the reference says ‘RR. 702310’ and your name. 



You can find more detailed information on how to reach the campus on the following website: http://www.vub.ac.be/en/campus/etterbeek or download the campus map (pdf). 

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Erasmus University College of Brussels

In cooperation with University of Antwerp and Free University of Brussels

Universiteit AntwerpenVUB

With the Support of Passa Porta, CBTIP

Passa PortaCBTIP