Monday, 18 April 2011 18:36

Conference Closing Address

Conference Closing Address

Annie Brisset
IATIS President



< Dear members, colleagues and friends,

The Second IATIS Conference, Intervention in Translation, Interpreting and Intercultural Encounters, hosted by the University of the Western Cape in South Africa (11-14 July 2006), was a great success. In addition to six plenary lectures by eminent scholars from Africa, China, Europe, India, the Middle East and North America, approximately 150 papers were presented in 20 panels. Continuing in the spirit of the First IATIS Conference, which was held in Seoul in August 2004 under the auspices of UNESCO, the Second Conference attracted participants from all continents and regions of the world. Fittingly, one of the main objectives of our conferences is to bring together scholars representing the widest range of traditions and perspectives and to facilitate cooperation among the global community of researchers in translation and other related disciplines.

I am particularly pleased that our Second Conference was hosted by a university in a country that boasts 11 official languages -- a level of linguistic diversity that reflects the multilingual and multicultural situation of most African countries. In a field of research that has been centered on Western translation traditions and practices for so long it was particularly important to hear African voices from such countries as Cameroon, Nigeria, Malawi and Uganda as well as from various parts of South Africa, not to mention scholars from Arabic-speaking countries, whose voices are too seldom heard in translation studies. I believe that this Conference will play an important role in promoting cooperation in the development of translation and intercultural communication throughout the African continent.

When we consider the topics that were covered in many presentations, including the plenary sessions, we plainly see that translation as it is currently understood in its broader sense, that is, as an interface between cultures, has distinct sociological and political consequences. Translation relates to human beings and communities. In many instances, interlingual and intercultural communication is directly connected with human rights.

While we reflected upon the social and political underpinnings of translation and other forms of intercultural communication, the world witnessed the opening of another major theatre of war: the bombing of Beirut. This turn of events gave particular relevance to the question raised moments earlier by Rita Kothari in her plenary address: how do we go from manuvad to anuvad—from a caste system, which characterizes our world as dominated by separate identities, to dialogical encounters? Translators have come to think of themselves as “intervenients” to use Carol Maier’s concept. They have come to see themselves as agents of change. Many speakers demonstrated that this is not always the case. In view of what was happening in the world during the Conference, Yameng Liu’s examination of the asymmetrical relations between the North and the South seemed more appropriate than ever: “How to Become a Translator Engagé in Our Time?” How can we help protect and promote marginalized languages and cultures? As president of IATIS, I feel that this should be a major concern. If the promotion of intercultural dialogue is one of our highest priorities, how can we translate our discourse into actions that can make a difference at the local and regional levels?

IATIS was created to meet the need for a global forum dedicated to research in translation and other forms of intercultural communication. Thus, the IATIS Conference is recognized as one of the largest scientific meetings on translation and related studies, where the most recent developments in the discipline are presented. However, many of our colleagues, new scholars and graduate students are unable to join us for economic or political reasons.

This reminds us of our mission: to unite researchers through other channels of communication and cooperation and through a variety of scientific and educational activities. In the two years since its inception, IATIS has been very active in training and publications.

The first IATIS Yearbook, entitled Translation and the Construction of Identity, was released in 2005 as a refereed volume based on papers that were presented at the IATIS inaugural conference. In a similar vein, the creation of New Voices in Translation Studies was a particularly original initiative. The goal of this refereed electronic journal is to disseminate high-quality work by new translation scholars throughout the world. The first issue was published in 2005 and will shortly be followed by a second issue. Similarly, five issues of the IATIS Bulletin featuring news from the international world of translation studies were made available from the Association website.

At the same time, the largest online bibliography of Publications on Translator and Interpreter Training, with hyperlinks to training resources on the Internet, has been drafted and will soon be available on IATIS website. Consultations are under way to organize workshops to assist specific institutions or regions experiencing a shortage of trainers.

All these accomplishments were made possible thanks to the exceptional dedication of a core group of IATIS members. On behalf of the Association, I would like to thank every one of them. At this early stage in the life of IATIS, their commitment was invaluable and is deeply appreciated.

Further proposals were adopted during the general assembly to promote cooperation and give shape and relevance to our mission.  As president of IATIS, I am deeply committed to the implementation of the proposals and action plans that this entails.

I would like to thank personally the University of the Western Cape, and specifically Dr. Stanley Ridge, Vice Rector Academic and founder of the Centre for Humanities Research, who initiated the proposal to host the Second IATIS Conference. We are all thankful for his generous hospitality.

I owe sincere thanks to all members of the Local Organizing Committee: Charlyn Dyer (University of the Western Cape), the  admirably efficient and dedicated chief organizer; Alet Kruger and Kim Wallmach (University of South Africa, Pretoria), who organized the programme; Ilse Feinauer (Stellenbosch University) for contacting booksellers and publishers; and Judith Inggs (University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg), who handled sponsorships. Their dedicated work made the Second IATIS Conference a success.

The support of the international advisory committee in nominating the invited speakers and in maintaining the high standards of this Conference was also highly appreciated. Our special thanks to Dorothy Kenny (Dublin City University) for her outstanding leadership and efficiency.

I also would like to express the Association’s gratitude to our sponsor, the Flemish Interuniversity Council, represented by Jan Blommaert (Ghent University), for financially supporting the Conference as part of its funding of the Culture, Language and Identity project in the Faculty of Arts of the University of the Western Cape.

Thanks are also due to panel and workshop organizers as well as to all speakers and participants, who by attending the Conference have helped to make it a successful event.

Annie Brisset

IATIS President

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