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Laura KunreutherAssociate Professor of Anthropology"Transparency, Interpretation, and the Sounds of Testimony"
Wednesday, December 2, 2015

This paper focuses on the labor of interpreters hired by the UN and UN High Commission of Human Rights (OCHR) after the Maoist war in Nepal, and the politics of voice inherent in their work. Such interpreters are key figures of global citizenship and embody the international ideals espoused by the UN, OCHR, and other similar human rights and humanitarian organizations.  They are hired to reproduce the speech of others guided by an ideology of transparency and machine-like fidelity. The victims of human rights abuses with whom they are paired are often described as voiceless subjects, and the interpreter's task is to access testimonies and eye-witness accounts for use as evidence in human rights cases and policy, a process sometimes described as "giving victims a voice."   Sound is central to the experience that results, as interpreters describe the labor of intense listening that is the basis of the testimonies they are hired to produce. In this talk, I consider how UN human rights interpreters help constitute a global citizenship in which the sounds and voices that convey extreme experience becomes portable in the form of texts to a wider public. Their work, based on what they "selflessly" hear and transmit rather than on what they themselves have seen, heard, or felt, is part of a broader production of the myth of transparency. Please join us for a reception prior to the event beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the Olin Atrium

Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Olin, Room 102
Sponsor: Dean of the College
Contact: Office of the Dean of the College.
Phone: 845-758-7421

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