Second Call for Papers: ATSA Conference



25-26 MAY 2018



Translation and context: Perspectives on and from Africa

Call for papers

Current scholarship, whether in the humanities, social sciences or natural sciences, seems to agree that knowledge, or aspects thereof, is in some respect(s) relative to context, to a greater or lesser extent. With this as point of departure, one can argue that context, conceptualized as an environment determined by (a) particular time(s) and space(s), also plays a role in translation practices, translation products and translation processes, in short, in the type of phenomena with which translation studies scholars busy themselves. If one grants the relativizing influence of context, it means that a field like translation studies should spend a considerable part of its time on comparing the role of context in an effort to inform a global debate on translation.

As such, it seems reasonable to argue that Africa constitutes a relatively unique context and to spend some time considering the nature of the influence that Africa as a context has on translation and translation studies, in comparison to other contexts. Conversely, systems theory predicts that translation practices and the study of these practices will feed back into the systems in which it operates, i.e. the context. The ways in which contexts are co-constructed by practices and emerge out of these practices are thus relevant to translation studies.

To consider Africa as a context, one could conceptualize Africa from a number of perspectives. In translation studies, Paul Bandia has done so from a postcolonial perspective and Alamin Mazrui has done so from a political-culture perspective, to name only two. Work has also been done in descriptive translation studies on the African continent, and in some circles, linguistics studies on translation are also carried out. These perspectives, and others such as Bible translation and community interpreting, may not have been explored to their full potential and seem to allow for further research, which could be explored for this conference.

Another avenue for considering Africa as a context for translation studies would be to look for alternative conceptual perspectives from which to study translation. Recent work in conceptualising the relationship between translation and development would be one option. It also seems that many options exist for sociological approaches as not much has been written about translation in Africa from a sociological perspective. Furthermore, translation studies scholars have also not yet explored the economy, in particular the informal economy, as part of the contextual constraints. Tapping into the oral culture of Africa may open further avenues. Lastly, the teaching of translation and interpreting in Africa in response to the contextual constraints is an avenue that warrants exploration.

In light of the above, the Association for Translation Studies in Africa announces its second conference to be held at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa on 25 and 26 May 2018. We invite abstracts of between 300 and 350 words on research related to the various avenues or perspectives above. Topics related but not limited to the following will be considered:

  • Theoretical work on context and universalism in translation studies, including the implications of continentalism.
  • Conceptualisations of translation as influenced by Africa as context.
  • Empirical data on translation and interpreting practices in Africa.
  • Comparing data from Africa with data from other contexts.
  • Theorising the implications of data on African practices.
  • Considering and comparing Africa as a developmental context in translation.
  • Teaching translation and interpreting in the African context.
  • Exploring marginal practices in the African context, or comparing marginal practices across continents, for example practices in marginal languages, by marginal groups or in marginal contexts.


Abstracts should be e-mailed to before Monday, 7 August 2017, along with the title of the paper, name, affiliation and short biography of the speaker.

For more information on the conference, please visit


7 August 2017: Deadline for abstracts

1 September 2017: Accepted abstracts notified

1 October 2017 – 1 February 2018: Early-bird registration

2 February to 1 May 2018: Normal registration

25-26 May 2018: Conference


Call for chapters for planned publication on complexity thinking in Translation Studies

Complexity thinking has been challenging the reductionist, linear paradigm of Western scholarship since the late 1800s. Following chaos theory in the 1980s, current complexity thinking is growing in influence in the natural sciences as well as in social sciences and the humanities. Examples of the latter two categories are the work of Byrne and Callaghan in social sciences as well as the work of Morin, Wheeler, Queiroz and others in the humanities. One also finds numerous scholars who could be labelled complexity thinkers, but who do not necessarily use the terminology of complexity thinking. In translation studies, Marais made an effort to link translation studies and complexity thinking.

One of the many unfinished tasks of linking complexity thinking to translation studies is to consider the methodological implications of complexity thinking for translation studies.

Firstly, complexity thinking arose from within natural sciences, in particular from within mathematical and computational approaches to systems thinking. The philosophical and methodological implications of “adopting/adapting” quantitative approaches to qualitative research in the humanities are all but clear. It is not clear at all which of the quantitative approaches are adaptable, if any, and if they are to be adapted, how to do so.

Secondly, translation studies scholars need to consider the array of methodological options offered by complexity thinking and decide on the usefulness of these. For this reason, taking stock of existing methodologies from the perspective of complexity thinking seems to be an imperative.

With the above in mind, we invited two specialists in complexity thinking to introduce these topics at a two-day conference in Leuven, Belgium, in 2017, namely Joao Queiroz (University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil) and David Vampola (State University of New York, USA). In addition, we called for specialist papers that consider the methodological implications of complexity thinking in translation studies, including cultural translation, intersemiotic translation, sociological translation and translation and development.

Papers could be speculative and explore suitable methodologies for adopting complexity thinking to translation studies, or they could present case studies in which certain methodologies have been successfully applied from a complexity-thinking perspective.

We are now opening up the call for specialist papers from non-participants in the abovementioned conference with the view of publishing a collected volume with Routledge Press.

Abstracts can be sent to Reine Meylaerts ( and Kobus Marais (


Deadline for abstracts: 17 July 2017

Notification of acceptance of abstracts: 1 August 2017

Submission of chapters for review: 1 November 2017

Peer review: 1 November 2017 – 15 January 2018

Notification of accepted chapters: 15 January 2018

Reworking (if necessary): 15 January – 30 March 2018

Submission of reworked chapters: 1 April

Editing: 1 April – 10 July 2018

Submission of manuscript to publisher: 15 July 2018

Publication: Spring/Summer 2018