Behind the looking-glass: 'Other'-cultures-within' translating cultures

Lead Research Organisation: Goldsmiths College
Department Name: English and Comparative Literature

Abstract

This interdisciplinary proposal is premised upon the act of translation as collaboration and shared knowledge. Our transcultural, international network of scholars will draw centrally on texts including museum objects, marked by creolisation, in order to conduct an intercultural enquiry into global English as an effective vehicle of cultural translation. Drawing on collaborative teaching methodology, we wish to consider also how gendered creolisation might contribute to a recasting of Englishness in terms of New Britishness within globalization. We shall interrogate culture and its connection with human agency and knowledge production within the wider social frameworks from which objects and texts emerge. Our methodology takes particular account of the 'poetics of relation' (Glissant) in addressing the rich seam of cultural translation in the 'relative and related' intersections of Creolisation, Britishness and Global English of interest to scholars, teachers, museum educators, and creative artists. We are interested to contribute new academic interpretations, encouraging the creation of new interpretive platforms, and contributing to further understanding of postcolonial and diasporic art-forms, as well as significant potential impact upon contemporary creative practices.

The group's collective scholarship is grounded in transcultural discourse, and crosses international borders through, for example, teaching Caribbean Literature in the UK, Black British Literature in the USA and American Literature in Italy. From this basis, we wish to engage intersecting theoretical questions of key concern to cultural translation. The research will start by asking how creolisation texts in the UK contribute to translating and re-figuring Britishness in a globalized context towards a changing understanding of complex 'cultures within' society, in order to draw comparisons with other western contexts. It will examine further how important they are in reflecting and refracting traditional and contemporary hierarchies of power, assessing their implications, particularly for issues of gender, race and sexuality. By drawing into dialogue 'other' cultural UK texts, we aim at a comparative, intercultural enquiry focusing on the global English as an effective and respectful vehicle of cultural translation.

Our network will generate a series of Intercultural Research Network Meetings (IRNM) and collaborative teaching seminars allowing intensive dialogue through joint methodological approaches. This is premised upon active participation of clusters of collaborative teaching partners located within the Americas and Europe, who will develop an interactive website to share materials and best practices. We expect this process to develop a specific collaborative methodology and generate important findings concerning the questions highlighted, especially given the expertise of participants who teach not only Caribbean textualisation in the UK but also 'other' textualities in the EU, the Caribbean and the Americas. Integral to this interdisciplinary research are ways of developing museum literacy and progressing literacy from objects as texts in the UK, and internationally with the aim of caring for the communicative aspects of knowledge production.



Planned Impact

Within the commercial private sector, the Museums Association (MA) UK will be a key beneficiary enabling the research to reach a wider audience outside of the academy in Britain and the EU. Leicester's School of Museum Studies regularly contributes articles to the journal and papers at the annual conference, Europe's largest event for museum and heritage professionals.

Outside of the UK, the International Council of Museums (ICOM), which maintains formal relations with UNESCO, will be an influential beneficiary, since it is committed to the conservation, continuation and communication to society of the world's natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible, which most importantly includes languages.

The research will contribute to the MA and ICOM missions through enhancing the value of museums to society by sharing new knowledge, developing new skills, inspiring innovation, and providing leadership in this new field of study. Specifically our website will outline our findings and offer key factors on communication to be considered for essential training and continuing professional development. Other than museum professionals, most importantly the website will increase access to museums and galleries for culturally diverse audiences who have previously felt unwelcome, misrepresented or silenced in museums and galleries.

Working in partnership with schools and other cultural organisations, we will enhance public debates on citizenship, thus contributing to community cohesion and widespread social inclusion. Caribbean and Black British texts will, in addition, enhance the Mission of many universities and cultural institutions towards wider participation, especially within Humanities subjects.

The last phase of our project involves the production of scholarly editions of the texts as creolisation models. These will serve as starting points for public discussion on the shaping of New Britishness in terms of creolisation, allowing more democratic and inclusive practices, and enhancing the curriculum in British schools. Our project website will gather reference materials for such works, their history, initial reception, and dissemination.

Impacts may include:

1) Providing a newly edited, scholarly version of creolisation texts (some out of print), creating financial benefits for UK publishers and a new cultural experience for readers, students, and teachers;

2) Raising awareness of aspects of our cultural heritage through the dissemination of such texts and through engagement with the general public. Because texts which offer models of intercultural dialogue mediate social change, dissemination activities will include various speaking engagements during Black History Month, interviews on BBC Radio, readings and workshops at bookshops and museums;

3) Workshops with secondary school teachers to share best practices for the study of such texts and contexts, which illuminate the cultural heritage of 'other' students in the UK, thus contributing to their knowledge, quality of life, and creative output;

4) Strengthening international links between the UK and the Americas through collaborative teaching seminars and workshops;

5) Cultivating the US market for Black British and Caribbean Scholarship and Exchange of Faculty and Students;

6) Partnering with arts organisations such as 'Apples 'n' Snakes,' the UK's premier spoken-word poetry organisation, to sustain a dialogue on writing and performance, standard English and creolised forms;

7) Increasing the interest in Caribbean and Black British literatures in UK Universities both critically and in terms of the curriculum;

8) Validating interculturality will change the demographics within Higher Education by signalling to ethnic minorities the benefits of the academic study of the Humanities, including diverse cultures.

Publications

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Anim-Addo J (2013) affect and gendered creolisation in Feminist Review

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Anim-Addo J (2013) gendering creolisation: creolising affect in Feminist Review

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Anim-Addo J (2015) Introduction: Perspectives from the Radical Other in Synthesis: Perspectives from the Radical Other

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Anim-Addo, A (2011) Steaming between the Islands: Grenada, Carriacou, and the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in 14th Annual "islands - in - Between" Conference: Language, Literature and Culture of the Eastern Caribbean

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Anim-Addo, A (2013) Steaming between the Islands: Grenada, Carriacou, and the Royal Mail Steam Packet Company in Transcultural Roots Uprising: The Rhizomatic Languages, Literatures and Cultures of the Caribbean

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Anim-Addo, J (2013) Translational Space and Creolising Aesthetics in Three Women's Novels: the Diasporic Turn in Perspectives from 'Other' Cultures Translating Culture

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Anim-Addo, J (2015) Translational Space and Creolising Aesthetics in Three Women's Novels: the Radical Diasporic (Re)turn in Synthesis: Perspectives from the Radical Other

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Anthony Lewis, R (2013) Apprehending the Global-urban Text: Creole Perspectives on Audience Reception in Conceptualising Translation in Perspectives from 'Other' Cultures Translating Culture

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Bogues, A (2013) Sylvia Wynter and the Praxis of Decolonization: Culture, Thought and History in Perspectives from 'Other' Cultures Translating Culture

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Checinska, C (2013) Spinning a Yarn of One's Own in Perspectives from 'Other' Cultures Translating Culture

 
Title Creolization, Multiculturalism and Interculturality 
Description A Conversation at the Ralph Bunche International Affairs Center, Howard University, Washington, DC 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact To follow 
URL http://www.loc.gov/today/cyberlc/feature_wdesc.php?rec=5543
 
Title Imoinda's Trail 
Description Video of Workshop held at the Pitt Rivers Museum in July 2013 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2013 
Impact to follow 
 
Description The findings are based on collaborative activities involving the following twelve institutions:



Goldsmiths, University of London

University of Leicester

Howard University

University of Athens

Library of Congress

St Georges University, Grenada

University of the West Indies

London South Bank University

University of Trento, Italy

Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford

SUNY, Geneseao

Marsha Phoenix Memorial Trust



We hypothesized that creolization texts could offer a broad entry into urgent concerns of cultural disjuncture and issues of translation and that such texts might point to important possibilities for translating cultures and engaging a 'genuine dialogue' across cultures. Furthermore, we surmised that interpretive practices might be articulated from present texts and collaborative contexts towards effective pedagogical practice for engaging diverse audiences.



The project has achieved a wide range of important results:

- The articulation of a shared discourse on teaching practices with contributions and perspectives coming from the UK, Europe (Greece and Italy), the US, and the Caribbean;

- A shift of attention from conventional understanding of translation as a practice based on binary oppositions (source/target language, original/derivative text) to a complex and interdisciplinary conceptualization of translation as a broad cultural, linguistic, and ontological practice;

- A revision of key theoretical concepts (creolization, hybridity, interculturality, multiculturalism, translation) stemming from shared teaching practices and that apply to a variety of disciplines (literary studies, history, museum studies, and linguistics) and contexts (academic and non-academic);

- An innovative comparative, transnational, and multilingual methodology that affiliates texts from different disciplines and focuses on "Other" cultures and traditions with the intention of mirroring the commonalities and differences, the points of contacts and tensions that traverse those same cultures and their cultural products.

- A reconfiguration of the Caribbean as a significant historical, literary and theoretical "contact zone" (Pratt, 1991) conversant with the British and European cultures rather than as a postcolonial site annexed to the British and European traditions;

- A reconsideration of key-concepts such as nationalism, globalization, multiculturalism, global Englishes, Britishness, Americaness, Otherness from the distinctive perspective of "minor" cultures;

- A rethinking of traditional binary oppositions, such as Self/Other, center/periphery, local/global, not as antithetical but rather as complementary entities;

- A substantial contribution to the recently emergent field of black opera studies (Margaret Garner by Morrison as another case in point), as the central focus of the network on Imoinda has been accompanied by the staging of this black opera and the involvement of college students in the performance and its politics;

- The publication of our papers on an open-access blind peer-reviewed journal to increase the dissemination of the research's results and enhance accessibility;

- The contribution of papers, creolized "objects," videos and images to reflect the interdisciplinary, hybrid, and transnational nature of our project.
Exploitation Route Outside the university classroom, the research can be used in the following contexts and for the following purposes:



- to redesign museums as places of shared participation and the making of cultures instead of sites of passive fruition and information;

- to update the curricula for both teachers in all school levels_the case of Imoinda as an example of an intercultural text speaking to different histories (Caribbean, European, British, Atlantic) and genres (literature, opera, theatre) that can be used as a teaching tool for the history of slavery, the connections between culture and colonization, and the history of the Atlantic.

- to support workers employed in multicultural contexts in which relations among different groups require attention not only to translation between languages but as pressingly to translations within the differences that characterize each collectivity.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education

URL http://www.gold.ac.uk/caribbean/behind-the-looking-glass
 
Description Over the two years of our Translating Cultures collaboration we have been concerned in our research activities with 'glocal tensions' and the related need for 'transcultural dialogue' at all levels. At the level of contemporary creative processes, we are pleased to highlight a widening engagement with our key text Imoinda. Most recently performed as 'The Crossing' (7 November, 2014, Actor's Church, Covent Garden) and previously at Tulane University (2013), Imoinda continues to offer an important transcultural contact zone (as theatre, music and literature, for example). Importantly, it affords an inclusive space for 'signifying minorities' to engage the wider public both directly and indirectly. To illustrate, the 2014 event involved approximately 50 music professionals (orchestra, choir and so on) performing to a diverse audience of approximately 300, a proportion of whom will refer to the text in their social as well as professional lives, especially since responses to the show were overwhelmingly positive (after-show and email comments as well as Survey Monkey). Throughout the research we have explored how the Museum might provide a site of public engagement with ideas of self and other. Imoinda as a key text informed our examination of the 'boundaries between' texts and histories, texts and object, texts and geographies. For example, Golding worked with her distance learning MA students (2013) at New Walk Museum (NWM) to investigate how Imoinda might connect with the NWM German Expressionism Collections through the development of worksheets for family audiences. Golding also worked with Lima and her Graduate students from the USA (2013) at the Pitt Rivers Museum Oxford to connect the terrible past of Transatlantic enslavement - beginning with Imoinda - to consider a range of more positive future(s) for family audiences, through the museum collections (Golding and Lima 2014). Similarly arising from the research project, Golding has begun to develop museum exchange in the Caribbean. Most notably she delivered a seminar day at the Barbados Museum and Historical Society focusing centrally on Imoinda while drawing on other intangibles. No less important has been the affiliation of researchers within the project. An impact arising from this has been the development of a US/UK university partnership agreement involving a network of 65 campuses in the US and facilitating mutual student exchange and with that, new cultural approaches at undergraduate level. We envisage that such a partnership will in turn benefit the public sector, museums, art galleries and so on.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal