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Asien-Orient-Institut UFSP Asien und Europa (2006–2017)

Asia and Europe in Translation: Interdisciplinary Perspectives

Annual Conference of the URPP Asia and Europe, November 6–8, 2014


Prof. Dr. Hans B. Thomsen, Dr. Julia Orell, and Dr. Julia Obinger


University of Zurich, Ethnographic Museum, Pelikanstrasse 40, 8001 Zurich


Registration required by October 27, 2014: Please use the registration form (download link in the right column).


Histories and discourses of translation, and concepts of cultural translation are being continuously revised in a variety of disciplines. “Translation” also plays a crucial role in the research undertaken at the URPP Asia and Europe, both in its narrower meaning of translating between languages and in the conceptual implications of cultural translation. This conference investigates both notions of translation with regard to transfers between contexts in the entangled histories of Europe and Asia from an interdisciplinary and broad historical perspective.

We aim at bringing into dialogue differences and similarities in traditions and discourses of translation in Asia and Europe and to re-examine theoretical positions in translation studies for trans-cultural analyses. For instance, the Latin terms translatio and traduco, “to carry/bring across” and “to lead across,” from which English and the Romance languages take their terms, connote a movement from one context to another. Other historically, linguistically, and culturally contingent connotations of “translation” are found in Europe and in Asia, such as “(ex)change,” “movement,” “transmission,” “transformation,” “legitimation,” or “turning over.” Further challenges to translation theories arise with respect to processes of translation between different writing systems or between different languages that partially share a writing system.

Such theoretical and historical considerations offer a point of departure to focus on specific contexts and media of translation; the transmission of knowledge between regions and cultures is one major focus of the conference and expands the notion of translation beyond its textual base to account for knowledge transfers based on maps, objects, and practices. Another emphasis is the spread of Buddhism from India throughout Asia, analyzing how religious concepts and practices were translated between languages and cultures, and how they were re-evaluated and adjusted over time. The concept of cultural translation will be examined with a focus on post-colonial perspectives in case studies addressing literature, film, photography, and illiteracy in the modern and postmodern period. Further expanding the notion of translation to the visual field, issues of interpretation, reception, and appropriation in aesthetic discourses, in developing a language for “national art”, and in studies of Asian art in Europe will be scrutinized.

Weiterführende Informationen

Report in the “Asia & Europe Bulletin” 4/2015

Interview about the preparations of the conference in the “Asia & Europe Bulletin” 3/2014

Registration Form

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