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Scientific Profile

In the context of colonialism, historical migration movements, translocation and exile, processes of translation play a systematic and historically powerful role in the transfer of languages and knowledge. This branch of research aims its interest at translation processes which can be understood as knowledge transfer and which act as catalysts of epistemic and normative innovation or cultural change. At the same time, it raises questions about elements resisting translation, about monopolies of translation and privileges of translation.


This branch of research takes into account the relevance of language contact as well as multilingualism to historical and cultural diversity. It seeks to examine language contact both as a linguistic phenomenon and as a literary figuration that unleashes plural approaches to the world and spells out intercultural connections. Language contacts, creolization and multilingualism pose challenges to the conventional wisdom of concepts like “national languages” “monolingualism” and “language ownership”, particularly in the context of often unequal transcultural processes of exchange. At the same time, this research area invites an examination of the role that interlingual translations play as a practice of connectivity and demarcation between languages and an exploration of the constitutive translational nature of language.


This research area explores the circulation of transcultural media in diverse constellations and accentuates the transformative processes that initiate the translation of media across distinct local contexts. Following research in Post-Translation Studies, translation is understood as a multi-layered practice that encompasses processes of exchange between languages, cultures and media. In this area, research on translation is supplemented by the concepts of inter- and transmediality as well as remediation and adaptation, which in turn are scrutinized with regard to their spatio-temporal networking potential. Of particular interest are digitization phenomena and machine translation, which not only offer new forms of distribution, networking and archiving, but also fundamentally alter the cultural techniques of translation, writing and reading.


This branch of research is dedicated to the forms and possibilities, but also the challenges of machine translation at the interface of human-computer interactions. The interest in technical possibilities and concrete forms of implementation for digital translation is combined with posthumanist reflections on the agency of machines. Ethical and socio-political questions about how to deal with the differences and relationality between languages, groups and traditions constituted by translations are expanded to include technical experiences of difference. The processes circulating and de-territorializing linguistic information associated with digital translation provide an opportunity to examine social network formation from a process-ontological perspective.


The investigation of memory processes from the perspective of translation studies brings to light transcultural entanglements and multidirectionality (following Rothberg), including interpretations of the past based upon identity. Translation processes can inscribe themselves as pluralized temporal, linguistic and local entanglements in texts, artefacts and communities. Moreover, they might yield polycentric spaces of memory that undermine the assumptions undergirding the identity-stabilizing authenticity of memory and the structures of hegemonic power of interpretation. This research area enables new, decentralized approaches to historical constellations, groups and media artefacts which challenge ideas of cultural homogeneity and local stability. It accentuates the fact that memory, culture and identity have been and always are being translated.


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