XVI International Conference

Theme: “Translation, Comparatism and the Global South

Date: 15 – 18 December 2013  

Jointly Organized by the Forum on Contemporary Theory,   Baroda   and the Department of Studies in English University   of  Mysore

Venue:  Hotel Regaalis,  Mysore  ,   India

Convener: S. Shankar,  University  of Hawai‘i at Mānoa

Inaugural Function

It was my pleasure to attend the 16th annual International Conference held this December, jointly organized by the Forum on Contemporary Theory and the Department of English Studies at the University of Mysore . This year’s conference was titled “Translation, Comparatism, and the Global South” and was held at the beautiful and accommodating Hotel Regaalis in Mysore , “the City of Palaces .” Participants were welcomed by both Professor Mahadeva and PrafullaKar before hearing from S. Shankar, the convener of the conference, with his thematic introduction. The conference was saddened to hear that Dr. NgugiwaThiong’o would be ultimately unable to attend due to visa issues, but he sent his best wishes and attended the conference in spirit, as the issues with translation were discussed throughout three day conference. Despite this, we were honored by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Mysore , Professor K.S. Rangappa, as he issued his inaugural address, in which he congratulated the conference on its history of success and invited all of the participants to join him for a private dinner at the Vice-Chancellor’s Palace located within walking distance from the Hotel Regaalis. Dr. Radhakrishnan, from the University of California at Irvine, presented a portion of his paper on “Linguistic Violence and the Adultery of Meaning” before the vote of thanks was delivered by K.T. Sunitha and the inaugural session was drawn to a close. 

Simon Gikandi

The conference was pleased to report that over 120 participants attended the conference, each offering their own unique and comprehensive look into a variety of topics within this year’s theme. Because of the great diversity of topics and a large attendance, the conference was divided into 17 different sessions (5 of which served as plenary sessions) and 2 keynote addresses. Simon Gikandi delivered one such keynote address, titled “From South to South: Comparative Literature from Below.” In this presentation, he discussed the inherent disadvantages within the model of comparative literature as it exists today. He ended by questioning the ways in which global comparative literature could break free of its confining Eurocentric origins and embrace the multiplicity of world languages and literature. The plenary sessions offered views on an assortment of topics, ranging from discussions on R.K. Narayan’s “The Guide”, Gaurav Desai’s newly released book Commerce with the Universe: Africa, India, and the Afrasian Imagination, and poetry readings by Meena Alexander and Bishnu N. Mohapatra. Another plenary session titled “Translation and Disciplinarity”, dealt with two very different issues associated with translation. S. Charusheela began the discussion with her presentation titled “Economics, Modernity, and Counter disciplinary Translation” as she discussed the troubles that arise when radical critiques seek to “translate” the idea of the economic outside of its modernist foundations. In the end, she suggested  a “counter-disciplinary reimagining of economy”, rather than avoiding its original associations. The second presentation of the session was delivered by Sundar Sarukkai with “Translation and the Origin of Meaning”. Here Sundar acknowledges the issues associated with translating concepts and tackles claims that simply because different languages do not have words for a concept, then that concept must not exist anywhere within that culture. He ends by suggesting that we analyze the way in which scientific texts address the translation of concepts and envisions translation as a “tool for erecting meaning”. The discussions held throughout the 16th International Conference stretched to encompass a wide variety of ideas that are of great importance throughout today’s Global South and in the process, allowed scholars from around the world the opportunity to network with new friends and exchange their ideas and visions for the future of the Global South.

A Section of Audience

Poetry Reading Session

Elizabeth Kemp, Department of History/Social Science, Louisiana State University at Shreveport, USA