University of California, Irvine professors Liron Mor, assistant professor of comparative literature, Jane O. Newman, professor of comparative literature, and Ngūgī wa Thiong’o, Distinguished Professor of comparative literature, will lead a UCI Humanities Commons-initiated collaboration with colleagues from Chile, England, and South Africa on a Global Humanities Institute (GHI) on the “Challenges of Translation,” funded by the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI) and the Mellon Foundation.

Their project, entitled “Translation’s Theoretical Issues, Practical Densities: Violence, Memory, and the Untranslatable,” will study and develop strategies of research, practice, and academic exchange based on a multidimensional and interdisciplinary concept of translation with poetic and theoretical implications. The model of translation will be used to explore and rethink both immediate and long-term questions of ethics, politics, history, and performance across media.

Mor and Newman recently traveled to Oxford (UK) for a planning meeting. A highlight of the collaboration will be a two-week summer school institute in Santiago de Chile in July 2019.

Over the past 30 years, translation studies has emerged as an independent field; broadly defined, translation has become a model for multiple lines of study and research, ranging from literary, philosophical and historical to juridical and psycho-social approaches. Its practical and theoretical implications and impact have been influential in view of the cultural, ethical, and political challenges that accompany vast migrations of people due to warfare and/or political and economic plight.

Mor, Newman, and Ngugi are pleased to be involved in this project with its international reach. Taking leadership in this kind of collaborative project with partners from two Northern Hemisphere centers from North America and Europe and two Southern Hemisphere centers from South America and Sub-Saharan Africa will internationalize the discussions of and programs for literary translation long established at UCI in the School of Humanities, especially in the initiatives associated with the International Center for Writing and Translation (ICWT), of which Ngūgī was the founding director.

CHCI Global Humanities Institutes are multiyear projects devoted to a research theme, method, practice, or problem in the humanities that would benefit directly from an international, collaborative approach to it. These institutes represent the newest phase in CHCI's ongoing effort to advance international, collaborative research in the humanities.

Comparative Literature