Martha Cheung Award 2022 Winner and Two Runners Up

The Martha Cheung Award for Best English Article in Translation Studies by an Early Career Scholar

Announcement of 2022 Award Winner and Two Runners Up

The SISU Baker Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2022 Martha Cheung Award is Dr. Kasia Szymanska, Centre for European Studies, Trinity College Dublin, for her article entitled ‘Peeping through the Holes of a Translated Palimpsest in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Tree of Codes’, published in Contemporary Literature 61/1 (2021).

Dr. Szymanska argues that comparative textual media (media studies) should work more closely with translation studies, and supports this argument by examining the example of Jonathan Safran Foer’s die-cut book Tree of Codes (2010). Her highly intricate analysis combines the perspectives of literary studies, translation studies and media studies, bringing to the fore two issues that have been so far neglected in criticism. These are: firstly, the significance of erasing a literary translation, namely, a text that represents another text written in a different language and directly inaccessible cultural reality; and secondly, the possibility of interpreting Foer’s die-cut book beyond the two-dimensional erasure convention and treating it as a see-through web of words and obscured fragments which can meaningfully illuminate each other. In doing so, the study proposes a broader understanding of Foer’s translatorial gesture. By foregrounding the very medium of translation and the palimpsestic quality of the book project, it brings to light different possible understandings of the act of erasure, including cultural, textual, material and translatorial ones.

Runners up
Two further submissions have been deemed by reviewers and the Award Committee to be of outstanding quality and therefore deserve mention as runners up. In alphabetical order, the runners up are Mr. Gökhan Firat, University of Surrey, and Dr. Simon Leese, Utrecht University, The Netherlands.

Mr. Firat’s article, entitled ‘Uberization of Translation: Impacts on Working Conditions’, appeared in The Journal of Internationalization and Localization 8/1 (2021). It explores the critical literature on digital labour platforms from a labour studies perspective and presents the findings of a quantitative survey of 70 translation workers residing in Turkey and working on/for digital labour platforms. Mr Firat argues that the introduction of digital labour platforms into translation production and business networks has not yet provided a significant contribution to the working conditions of translation workers in Turkey. Instead, their working conditions have been rearranged and reorganized in accordance with the uberization of (translation) work. Engaging in such work on/for digital labour platforms exposes translation workers to risks related to employment status, income level, work-life balance, social protections, free agency, bargaining power, dependence on the platform, allocation of risks and rewards, and data collection, protection and privacy.

The article by Dr. Leese, entitled ‘Arabic utterances in a Multilingual World: Shāh Walī-Allāh and Qur’anic translatability in North India’, appeared in Translation Studies 14/2 (2021). It explores the way in which Arabic texts reached multilingual audiences in North India in the eighteenth century. Drawing on a remarkable treatise on translating the Qur’an into Persian by the Delhi intellectual Shāh Walī-Allāh (d. 1176/1762), it argues that so-called “interlinear” translations functioned to preserve the sound of Arabic utterances as well as their meaning. By anchoring another language to Arabic utterances, these translations also reified symbolic hierarchies between Arabic and languages used to translate it. Walī-Allāh’s understanding of translatability was closely tied up with notions of Qur’anic structure (nazm) and the sonic qualities of the Arabic language, but was also informed by a sensitivity to linguistic difference in the multilingual society in which he lived.

As in previous instalments of the Award, the Committee will attempt to gain permission from publishers to provide open access copies of all three articles on the website of the Centre. A further circular with relevant links will be sent out in due course. In the meantime, Dr. Leese’s article is already published open access and available on the journal website.

For further information on the Martha Cheung Award, visit Martha Cheung Award
March 2022
On behalf of the SISU Centre and the Award Committee
Robert Neather, Chair of Award Committee