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Translation and Translatability Initiative Presents

Thursday, February 7, 2019
Babel of the Atlantic: Language and Translatability in the Politics of Migration, Settler Colonialism, and Political Resistance
Olin, Room 102
4:45 pm – 6:00 pm
Dr. Bethany Wiggin, University of Pennsylvania
In dialogue with oceanic history and the “blue humanities,” this talk considers the role of language (languages) and translatability in the politics of migration, settler colonialism, and political resistance, drawing on archives and case studies from the colonial American mid-Atlantic region. The area was known as the “Babel of the Atlantic” in a variety of European languages, and the textual archives of the mid-Atlantic’s manuscript and print cultures continue to offer rich sites to explore the role of language and colonial as well as anti-colonial politics. Individual cultural brokers, including translators, have been the subject of rich recent historical scholarship while often subject to their contemporaries’ curiosity and sometimes their suspicion. How might we build on these accounts of individual translators to explore the multilingualism of the archives more broadly? What research methods and collaborations might we need to make their polyglot and heterodox voices audible today? And, how might a historically rich account of Atlantic multilingualism resound today under widespread pressure on humanistic ways of knowing? 

For more information, call 845-758-7600, or e-mail

Time: 4:45 pm – 6:00 pm

Location: Olin, Room 102