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ICM Global South Translation Symposium: Theory and Practice

Saturday, December 4, 2021 at 11:00am to 1:30pm

Virtual Event

The Institute for Comparative Modernities' first Global South Translation Symposium, featuring presentations by our inaugural cohort of translators (see below), remarks by translation theorist Naoki Sakai and commentary by Brett DeBary and Jan Steyn.  Registation is required for this online event.  Registration link:

With presentations from the following ICM Global South Translation fellowship recipients:

Wendy Call, on the poetry collection Stolen Flower (Guie’ ni zinebe / La flor que se llevó), from the Isthmus Zapotec and Spanish, by Irma Pineda

Guie’ ni zinebe / La flor que se llevó (Stolen Flower) is a collection of 45 poems by Irma Pineda, originally published in 2013 in a bilingual Isthmus Zapote/Spanish edition.  Selected poems have been published in three languages in The Chicago Review.  The collection explores gender-based violence against Indigenous communities, through multiple poetic voices.  The author, Irma Pineda, is a spokesperson for the rights and autonomy of Indigenous Peoples, as well as for the families of disappeared persons.

Chamini Kulathunga, on selected poetry from Next Sweet Wines (Mīḷaṅga Mīvita),  from the Sinhala, by Ruwan Bandujeewa

The work of contemporary Sri Lankan poet Ruwan Bandujeewa is highly acclaimed, particularly as writing that addresses class inequity, and describes the harsh realities groups living on the economic margins of an exploitative capitalist system.  His popularity in Sri Lanka uniquely cuts across class boundaries. The poems in this collection comprise a selection of his most celebrated writing, as well as unpublished work.

David McKay, on the text We Slaves of Suriname (Wij slaven van Suriname), from the Dutch, by Anton de Kom

Wij slaven van Suriname (We Slaves of Suriname), is a classic anti-colonial work first published in 1934, but never published in English until David McKay’s translation. The author, Anton de Kom, was an Afro-Surinamese writer and left-wing political organizer who later lost his life resisting the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II.  De Kom’s historiographical book has been compared to the work of American authors such as W.E.B. Du Bois and to the anti-colonial writings of Frantz Fanon. In the Caribbean context, historians have likened We Slaves of Suriname to groundbreaking studies such as Capitalism and Slavery by Eric Williams and The Black Jacobins by C.L.R. James.

Quyen Nguyen-Hoang, on the prose poem collection Midseason Moonplay (Chơi Giữa Mùa Trăng), from the Vietnamese, by Hàn Mặc T

Hàn Mặc Tử  is a symbolist inspired major modern Vietnamese poet as yet untranslated into English.  Midseason Moonplay, published posthumously in Vietnam in 1941 is a wildly experimental and virtuosic series of prose-poems that expands the canon of Vietnamese literature.  Quyen Nguyen-Hoang writes that his work “stands apart from the stereotypical body of poetry that encloses Vietnam as a country attached to the US-Vietnam war legacies or a nation under the yoke of colonization and oppressive regimes.”

Jennifer Shyue, on the short novel The Illumination of Katzuo Nakamatsu (La iluminación de Katzuo Nakamatsu), from the Spanish, by Augusto Higa Oshiro

Augusto Hiro Oshiro is a contemporary Peruvian writer born to immigrants from Okinawa.  His short novels are considered vital and mesmerizing, some of the best contemporary writing in Spanish. This 2008 short novel La iluminación de Katzuo Nakamatsu invokes the complexities of Japanese-Peruvian histories, and exemplifies the writer at the height of his powers.

Remarks by Naoki Sakai, Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies Emeritus, Cornell University and commentary by Brett de Bary, Professor Emeritus, Departments of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature; and Jan Steyn, Lecturer in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa. Moderated by Natalie Melas, ICM Resident Director and Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Literature, Cornell University.

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Asian Studies, Romance Studies, Comparative Literature, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, Institute for Comparative Modernities (ICM), South Asia Program, Africana Studies and Research Center, Southeast Asia Program


cascal, cashum, asianstudiescal, africal

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