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TRANSLATING TESTIMONY: NEGOTIATING RIGHTS ACROSS LANGUAGES

Monday, November 9, 2009
12:00 AM

What role do translators play in shaping testimony of human rights violations? This symposium will feature a keynote lecture by Ellen Elias-Bursac, an award-winning literary translator who currently works in the English Translation Unit of the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague preparing documentary evidence from Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian for the courtroom. The morning panel will consider questions of law and human rights in translation to anticipate her lecture, and the afternoon panels will focus on examples of human rights in translation from Africa and the Middle East.

10:00-11:30
Panel 1: Translating Rights in Legal Testimony

James Boyd White, Law and English, University of Michigan
Panel chair

Joseph Slaughter, English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University
"Monsters of Human Rights"

Eric Cheyfitz, Law and English, Cornell University
"What Is A 'Reasonable Observer'? Translating the Mohawk OHÊN:TON KARIHWATÊHKWEN into Western Law"

Andrew Herscher, Architectural History, Slavic Languages and Art History, University of Michigan
"The Inhuman Witness: Satellite Surveillance and Human Rights"

 

12:00-1:30
Keynote: Translating the Truth: the Role Translators Play in the Trials of the War Crimes Tribunal

Ellen Elias-Bursac, English Translation Unit, War Crimes Tribunal, The Hague

 

2:30-4:00
Panel 2: Translating Narratives of Torture

Ruth Tsoffar, Comparative Literature and Women's Studies, University of Michigan
Panel chair

Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan
"Blogging the Middle East as Translation"

Atef Said, Sociology, University of Michigan
"Torture in Egypt's Mubarak: Narratives of The Victims and Their Victimizers"

Anton Shammas, Near Eastern Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan
"Torture into Affidavit: On Translating Palestinian Pain"

4:15-5:45
Panel 3: Negotiating Versions of Truth

Jennifer Wenzel, English, University of Michigan
Panel chair

Yazier Henry, Public Policy, University of Michigan
"Mediations of the Truth and the Politics of Testimony After Conflict"

Frieda Ekotto, Romance Languages and Comparative Literature, University of Michigan
"Negotiating Versions of Truth in The Cameroonian Court: A Reading of the Film 'Sisters in Law"

Anne Cubilie, United Nations, New York
"Impossible Justice: Testimony, Ethics and Operational Practice"


What role do translators play in shaping testimony of human rights violations? This symposium will feature a keynote lecture by Ellen Elias-Bursac, an award-winning literary translator who currently works in the English Translation Unit of the War Crimes Tribunal in the Hague preparing documentary evidence from Bosnian, Croatian and Serbian for the courtroom. The morning panel will consider questions of law and human rights in translation to anticipate her lecture, and the afternoon panels will focus on examples of human rights in translation from Africa and the Middle East.