Call for Contributions to A Critical Reader on Translating Cultures
(The deadline has been extended to May 31)

The UNESCO Chair in Translating Cultures at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies (KFCRIS) with the support of the Literature, Publishing and Translation Commission announces a call for contributions to A Critical Reader on Translating Cultures organized by the Chair’s Translating Cultures Lab (TCL).

The Chair takes a global rather than Eurocentric view of translating cultures, building on the historical Arab trajectory of South-South translation in the multicultural societies of the Umayyads, Abbasids, and Andalusis. The UNESCO Chair perceives translating cultures as a concept that reflects much broader debates in the global humanities and recognizes it as an ongoing process involving translation, transmission, cross-cultural communication, and the dissemination of knowledge. The Chair seeks to reimagine the epistemological turn that translating cultures has taken in the twenty-first century and embraces translating cultures’ growing emphasis on theoretical approaches and geo-linguistic diversity. It encourages theoretical discussions that explore and problematize the cultural and interdisciplinary discontinuities and the untranslatable in between.

The UNESCO Chair is calling for contributions to a reader that aims to reconceptualize the history and processes of translation by starting from Arabic and the Middle East, rather than Europe. This approach seeks to move beyond a Western-centric research paradigm, advancing South-South cultural and conceptual exchanges and uncovering concepts and discussions previously overlooked in Anglo-centric translation studies. Contributions could, for example, expand the concept of translation by moving beyond the relationship between two languages and consider, instead, dialogues between disciplines. They might interrogate the cultural interplay between East and West as a form of translation or explore theories of translation emerging from East-East interactions.

The reader aims to engage with the polycentric and multilingual processes of cultural analysis, particularly through the Arab/Arabic debate and the multilingualism of the Arab world (highlighted by Abdelkebir Khatibi’s discussion in Maghreb pluriel). The reader encourages a new outward cultural and geographical orientation, pushing the discourse towards multidirectional and multi-theoretical spheres and exploring cultural mediation while addressing how to circumvent cultural hegemony in the modern era. The reader aims to spark original insights into translating cultures, and its theoretical approach represents a significant evolution and departure from existing scholarship, distinguishing itself geographically, culturally, and theoretically.

To enhance the reader’s discussion and distinguish it from Anglophone translation studies, we encourage authors to engage with the following questions:

  • What are the key periods of intense translation activity into or out of Arabic in the Arab world, and how can we conceptualize the flow of multilingual and multicultural translation and knowledge transfer, especially in the modern period? When has Arabic served as a particularly effective medium for translation, and are we experiencing such a moment currently? Whether the answer affirms or negates this assumption, what are the reasons behind this assessment?
  • How can we begin to theorize the interconnectedness between the languages and cultures of the Arab world and the Global South, promoting a plurality of voices and deploying comparative approaches to elucidate the similarities in the evolution and challenges of translation studies, as well as the reception of Western theoretical models in the Global South?
  • Considering Barbara Cassin’s Dictionary of Untranslatables, is it possible to reconsider the concept of translating culture through the lens of the “untranslatable” encountered in South-South cultural interactions? How can we theorize connectedness and address untranslatability within and among the languages and cultures of the Global South, focusing on questions of alterity in translating cultures? What happens when translation and cultures are irreconcilable?
  • How might a new emphasis on South-South encounters, such as Arab-Chinese relations, shift the focus of the field and enrich the humanities, in the Global South and beyond?
  • How do we analyze the role of translation in the intricate and sometimes contentious debates on modernity in the Arab world during the 1950s and 1960s until now? Has mis-translation contributed to impasses and disputes in relation to the development and understanding of Arab modernity?
  • How can translation studies redefine its methodologies and theoretical frameworks not only to accommodate but also capitalize on the emerging narratives and identities embraced by digital and virtual communities in the globalization era, thereby challenging traditional notions of linguistic and cultural homogeneity?
  • Are current translation journals and other publications bridging the gap between North-South knowledge transfer and exploring new terrains within South-South cultural exchange? Case studies that focus on analyzing translation projects, whether ongoing or discontinued, such as Souffles in the 1960s and the thinkers associated with them, are encouraged.
  • Articles focusing on delineating the contemporary state of translation studies and translation projects in the Arab world are welcome.
Submission Process and Guidelines

All materials should be submitted to KFCRIS via its online submission system. Information on how to set up an account can be found below. Submissions should be in English and should include the following information:

  • Author’s CV.
  • Abstract or brief description of the article under consideration, including a clear indication as to how it addresses one or more of the stated themes/research theoretical questions outlined above (300-400 words).
Submission Timeline

Submissions of abstracts are due by Friday, May 31, 2024, at 11:59 PM Riyadh time (GMT+3).
Submissions will undergo a double-blind review process, and selected articles will be notified by the end of June. The completed research article (~6,000 words) will be submitted by November 22, 2024.

Setting up an Account for Submission
  • Go to the Submission Site
  • Create an account and log in.
  • Select Author from the top bar.
  • Select Start New Submission, then Begin Submission.
  • Drop your Abstract.
  • Select Research Proposal.
  • For Categories, select Edited Book.
  • For Programs, select the UNESCO Chair.
  • Continue the steps and make sure to upload all required files (abstract, author’s CV) at (Step 2: File Upload).
For further information: Author-Guide
Questions? Please contact