[Event] Legal and institutional translation policies: An interdisciplinary inquiry into past, present and future challenges, 20-22 September 2018, Belgium

Legal and institutional translation policies: An interdisciplinary inquiry into past, present and future challenges

20-22 September 2018

KU Leuven, Belgium


Submission details:

Abstracts should be submitted by email by 1 February, 2018.

Length of submission should be between 500 and 700 words, including references.

Please do not forget to mention your name, affiliation and email at the top of your abstract.

You will be notified of acceptance by 1 April 2018.


Call for Papers:

Research on translation in legal and institutional settings is thriving and has considerably enriched the understanding of formal features, translation processes and functions of translations. This growth of knowledge has been achieved by translators, legal practitioners, social workers, officials as well as scholars interested in the enormous potential offered by this ancient, widespread and yet under-researched intellectual activity (Glanert 2014). Mainstream translation studies is opening up to issues such as the design of specific translation methods for legal and institutional literature, the translation of multilingual texts, and interdisciplinarity in legal translation (Prieto Ramos 2014). Conversely, governance studies focus on regulatory functions assigned to institutional translation (Kang 2014; Koskinen 2014; Schäffner et al. 2014), and the relations between translation and multilingualism. Legal studies as well as sociology and political philosophy have become strongly interested in translation as a carrier of legal concepts and systems across national borders, and as a token of linguistic justice (Van Parijs 2011), especially with regard to minority language groups (Branchadell 2005).

The aim of this conference is twofold. Firstly, it wishes to document the state of affairs of the expanding and interdisciplinary field of legal and institutional translation, by approaching the latter through the lens of ‘translation policy’. This umbrella concept, as derived from Spolsky’s view on language policy (Gonzalez Nuñez 2016), embraces many features of translational communication: rules, agency, practices and values. In addition, it enables framing of translation across the separate disciplines’ realm, and so becomes a binding factor between the study of forms and techniques, multilingual and transnational translation forms, issues of governance and linguistic justice. Taking stock of translation policy as applied to legal and institutional translation needs accounting for historical (Wolf 2015; Schreiber & D’hulst 2017) as well as contemporary ones, theoretical as well as applied approaches (Gonzalez Nuñez & Meylaerts 2017). Historical insight gained by case studies should offer a basis for comparison, and advance the understanding of the embedding contexts and societal impact of translation policies past and present (Lannoy & Van Gucht 2006). It further needs the investigation of policies construed not only in Europe and the Americas but also in the much less studied areas of Asia and Africa, and the generally overlooked eras before the 20th century (Beukes 2007; Baxter 2013).

Secondly, this conference aims at the development of interdisciplinary policies engaging translation studies, legal and institutional studies, and political philosophy. Present-day challenges such as the exponential spread of multilingualism going hand in hand with plural or hybrid forms of citizenship, or the political and societal integration of allophone minorities and immigrants in particular indeed raise new questions. How should one ensure better linguistic integration of minorities in national public spaces and beyond, safeguard equal access to institutions as well as to public and private goods and services, create an inclusive society with due respect for diversity?

In sum, in order to handle past, present and future translation policies with a focus on linguistic justice, minority rights, multilingualism or citizenship, this conference calls for the conjunction of several types of expertise: theoretical and applied, historical and modern, legal and institutional, philosophical and political. These types of expertise will be substantiated by contributions pooled under the following topics:

Translation policies and multilingualism
Translation policies in legal settings
Translation policies in institutional settings
Translation policies and citizenship

The organizers invite proposals from all disciplines, on all periods and geographical areas that may provide a significant contribution to historical and contemporary understandings of translation policies in legal and institutional settings. They especially welcome proposals containing prospects and ideas for future translation policies, such as the design of translation services for linguistic minorities (historical territorial minorities and immigrant minorities), or the role of translation policies in creating and securing linguistic and civil rights. Proposals may also deal with issues that offer overlap with several of the topics mentioned and relate to adjacent disciplines such as cultural, social and political history:

(How) is translation pitched as a means to effectuate a democratic regime (e.g. in a young, post-revolutionary nation-state)?
(How) were translations used to spread the idea of the nation and spark a patriotic or nationalist sentiment in the public at large?
How was translation perceived in general or political discourse?
With what other notions and values was it associated (e.g. equity, justice, injustice, equality, expenses, impracticality, danger…)?
Which qualities/vices were ascribed to it (explicitly or implicitly, in the shape of suppositions or doxa)?


Baxter, Robert Neal. 2013. “Interpreting and minority language planning and policy, Galician as a case study.”

Beukes, Anne-Marie. 2007. “Governmentality and the good offices of translation in 20th-century South Africa.” Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 25 (2):115-130.

Branchadell, Albert & Lovell Margaret West, eds. 2005. Less Translated Languages. Amsterdam-Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Glanert, Simone, ed. 2014. Law in Translation. The Translator 20: special issue.

Gonzalez Nuñez, Gabriel. “Translation Policy in a Linguistically Diverse World.” Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe 15:1 (2016), p. 1-18.

Gonzalez Nuñez, Gabriel & Reine Meylaerts. 2017. eds. Translation and Public Policy. Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Case Studies. London: Routledge.

Kang, Ji-Hae. 2014. “Institutions translated: discourse, identity and power in institutional mediation.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 22 (4):469-478. doi: 10.1080/0907676X.2014.948892.

Koskinen, Kaisa. 2014. “Institutional translation: the art of government by translation.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 22 (4): 479-492.

Lannoy, Katrien & Jan Van Gucht. 2006. “Babel rebuilt: A survey of social welfare institutions and interpreting and translation services in Flanders.” In Sociocultural aspects of translating and interpreting, ed. by Anthony Pym, Miriam Shlesinger & Zuzana Jettmarová, 191-200. Amsterdam: Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Meylaerts, Reine & Gabriel Gonzalez Nuñez. 2014. “No language policy without translation policy: A comparison of Flanders and Wales.” Language Problems and Language Planning 39 (2).

Meylaerts, Reine. 2011. “Translational justice in a multilingual world. An Overview of Translational Regimes.” Meta: Journal des Traducteurs 56 (4):743-757.

Prieto Ramos, Fernando. 2014. “Legal Translation Studies as Interdiscipline: Scope and Evolution.” Meta: Translators’ Journal 59(2): 260-277.

Schäffner, Christina, Luciana Sabina Tcaciuc, & Wine Tesseur. 2014. “Translation practices in political institutions: a comparison of national, supranational, and non-governmental organisations.” Perspectives: Studies in Translatology 22 (4): 493-510.

Schreiber, Michael & Lieven D’hulst, eds. 2017. Translation policies in Western Europe (18th-20th centuries): interdisciplinary perspectives. Parallèles 29 (1): special issue.

Van Parijs, Philippe. 2011. Linguistic Justice for Europe and for the World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wolf, Michaela. 2015. The Habsburg Monarchy’s Many-Languaged Soul: Translating and interpreting, 1848-1918. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.


For more information, please visit: https://kuleuvencongres.be/litp2018