22nd November, 2017
1230 onwards: Registration
1300- 1330: Lunch
1330-1400: Welcome by Head of Department, Prof Chandrava Chakravarty
Introduction by Coordinator, Somak Mandal
Inauguration of Workshop by Vice Chancellor, Prof Basab Chaudhuri
1400-1500: Chair: Jayati Gupta, National Tagore Fellow.
Keynote: Rita Kothari, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar
‘Translation, Mediation, Borders: English and other worlds’
1500-1630: Chair: Nandana Datta, Gauhati University
Speakers: Mandira Sen, Stree Samya
‘From the perspective of a publisher‘
V Ramaswamy, Translator
‘"Language is power", it is said.’
23rd November, 2017
1100 to 1300- Chair: Chandrava Chakravarty, West Bengal State University
Speakers: Nandini Saha, Jadavpur University
Nandana Dutta, Gauhati University
Bimalendu Halder, Writer, in conversation
1400- 1600- Chair: Nandini Saha, Jadavpur University
Speakers: Indranil Acharya, Vidyasagar University
‘Re-Writing the Margins: Problems and Prospects of Translating Dalit Literature’
Manoranjan Byapari, Writer, in conversation
Kalyani Thakur, Writer, in conversation
1600-1700- Interactive session
24th November, 2017
1100 to 1300- Chair: Somak Mondal, West Bengal State University
Speakers: Manohar M Biswas, Writer, in conversation
Lily Halder, Writer, in conversation
Ashish Lahiri, Translator, in conversation
Jatin Bala, Writer, in conversation
Vote of thanks.
1300- 1400- Lunch
1400-1500- Interaction between writers and participant-translators with the texts they have translated.
1500-1700- Presentations by Translators.
Abstracts and Bio-notes:
Keynote: ‘Translation, Mediation, Borders : English and other worlds’
Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar
‘Is there a particular kind of thinking that accompanies translation?’ In different words: are there theoretical antecedents to the act of translation, or reflection following the act? For the longest time, and oftentimes even now, such questions would have met with overwhelmingly empirical and autobiographical accounts of ‘how difficult it is to translate,’ or ‘how do you find equivalences of such and such.’ We must call to mind that most ‘difficulties’ of translation usually relate to the difficulty of translation from a home-grown language to English, at least in the Indian context. It is rare to find such troubling observations in intra-Indian languages. The challenges there are of a different order. So if we spend time thinking about translation between an Indian language and English what kind of thinking takes place there? I provide in this talk a journey, a travelogue of a translator who translates from a couple of Indian languages into English. The attempt is to throw light on processes of subjectivity, mediation and the politics of translation, known and sometimes unknown or unacknowledged to translators. It is hoped that this would provide a view to the underside of a tapestry and enrich our understanding of translation in unequal and multilingual worlds.
Bionote: Rita Kothari is a leading and multilingual scholar in the fields of translation (theory and practice) language politics and identity. Her ethnographic work is based out of western India, especially Gujarat, and Sindhi speaking parts of Kutch and Rajasthan. Kothari writes especially on local and marginalized communities. Her acclaimed works include Translating India : The Cultural Politics of English, a seminal book in translation studies; and The Burden of Refuge : Sindh, Gujarat, Partition, a pioneering study on partition. She has co-edited with Rupert Snell, Chutnefying English : The phenomemon of Hinglish ; with Judy Wakabayashi Decentring Translation Studies : India and Beyond. Her translations - The Stepchild (from Gujarati) Unbordered Memories (from Sindhi); Fence (from Gujarati) have received critical acclaim. Her recent translations include The Glory of Patan (with Abhijit Kothari) and Agnipariksha : Ordeal Remembered, a memoir based on 1969 Hindu-Muslim riots in Gujarat. Kothari teaches at the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar.
‘From the perspective of a publisher’
Director, Stree Samya
High quality publishing whether mainstream or alternative, as represented by Stree-Samya, is motivated by contributing to knowledge systems, in particular, expanding these, bringing in new contributions to keep pace with social changes that put some emphasis on inclusion of the hitherto excluded sections of society: the Dalits. So the ideas of the ‘margins’ are made public, which is what publishing does. Most of the original writing by Dalits is in the regional languages and translations into a global language like English, continuing to be associated with culture and power, brings these into a national and international space, giving an appearance of a shared space, however unequally. This has happened with the translations of works by Dalits that we have published from Marathi, Gujarati and Hindi; two of which have had foreign co-editions, published byColumbia University Press, thus gaining worldwide accreditation. We are now focusing on Bangla writings.
Publishing cannot be value-free, is embedded in the politics of society, though a particular publisher may have a different position. There are major implications of selection, and thus exclusion; and of hierarchy. Another significant factor is that few translators are Dalits and translating itself is a political act. Most Dalits have firm beliefs that only Dalits can write on Dalit issues, that the Dalit viewpoint gets appropriated by the mainstream, that a Dalit text gets commodified. I shall discuss some of these issues in my paper.
Bionote: Mandira Sen is the director of two imprints: STREE (gender studies, founded 1990) and SAMYA (cultural studies, with particular emphasis on Dalit writings, founded 1996), published by Bhatkal & Sen, a joint partnership of Popular Prakashan, Mumbai, and Mandira Sen, Kolkata. In 201 5 Sage-Stree and Sage-Samya were founded to publish select titles in the social sciences that would be marketed by Sage.
She began her publishing career in Boston where she worked for six years, starting with a small social science publisher and moving on to Little, Brown (now part of Hachette), and Houghton Mifflin (now Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). She was regional editor, Orient Longman before setting up as an independent publisher. She is a supporter of bibliodiversity which aims cultural diversity in the kinds of books published.
‘Is language power?’
"Language is power", it is said. But what happens when a writer from the margins, someone excluded, someone fighting against the marginalising and disempowering power, writes? And more importantly, what challenges does this pose for a translator?
Bionote: V. Ramaswamy lives in Kolkata. He has been engaged in a long-term project to translate the short fiction of the Bengali little magazine writer, Subimal Misra. Two collections, The Golden Gandhi Statue from America and Wild Animals Prohibited have been published, and Anti-Novel, comprising two 'anti-novels’ by Misra, is forthcoming. He was awarded the Sarai Fellowship for Non-Fiction Writing in 2012 and the Literature Across Frontiers – Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship in Creative Writing & Translation, at Aberystwyth University, Wales, in 2016. He is currently translating the novel Chandal Jibon by Manoranjan Byapari. Ramaswamy has also been engaged in grassroots organizing for the rights of the laboring poor in the city, as well as research, writing, public policy and teaching. He entered public activism in 1984 as a member of Chhinnamul Sramajibi Adhikar Samiti, a city-wide squatters’ federation and in 1997, he set up Howrah Pilot Project, a grassroots organization and Talimi Haq School in a century-old jute-workers basti in Howrah. He currently manages his small family enterprise, manufacturing flowmeters.
Politics, Ethics and the Translator
While the area of translation practice is deeply embedded in different kinds of textual politics (the cultures of source and target languages, the relationships of power and powerlessness of the two, questions of adequacy, equivalence, and creativity etc) in this presentation I will address the issue of translation as a crucial and urgent political gesture which involves the need to acquire visibility, empowerment for an entire community, identity issues and intervention in political and cultural discourses. Writing from marginal communities has been particularly caught up in such concerns and I will use my familiarity with translations from the tribal languages of Assam (which often do not have a script or use one of the dominant scripts like the Devanagari – and I am particularly thinking of the Bodo language) into Assamese and English in order to reflect on the implications and advantages of translation in the context of the theme of the Workshop. Given the nature of the relations between the margins and the centre in the case of translation in the kind of situations that Dalit or tribal writings represent, I hope to understand what it means to engage in, be responsible for, and use language in the service of a body of writing and a people.
Bionote: Nandana Dutta teaches English at Gauhati University. Her area of specialization is American Literature. Interests include Women’s studies, postcolonial literature and theory, and the nature and politics of English in India (translations have been a part of this interest as well as of the issue of identity). Her publications include American Literature (Series: Literary Contexts). Communities of Women in Assam: Being, Doing and Thinking Together (Edited and with Introduction). Questions of Identity in Assam: Location, Migration, Hybridity. Mothers, Daughters and Others: Representation of Women in the Folk Narratives of Assam (Collected and Translated by the Dept of English) (Edited with Introduction.
Re-Writing the Margins: Problems and Prospects of Translating Dalit Literature
Translation of Dalit texts from regional languages into English is a relatively recent phenomenon. As cultural spaces of olden times altered and broadened , more popular literary texts of one terrain travelled to another in some form. The compositions of Kabir appeared in many Indian languages and into English. In a multilingual country like India translation is the only tool to build awareness and solidarities across the minor language communities. Minor literatures and literatures of the oppressed would languish within the narrow confines of particular speech communities had there been no translation. Besides, rich archive of protest literature in several Indian languages can only be accessed through translation. Literature by and about Dalits attained visibility because of translation into English.
The intriguing part of this linguistic exercise is to maintain social and cultural nuances of the original text and yet to make it readable in English. There is a popular perception that the transcription/translation of a predominantly oral narrative into a written one is the most intriguing challenge. On the other hand, prose to prose translation is dubbed as relatively easy and less problematic. In my presentation I would like to counter this popular perception with specific reference to the prose narratives of Anil Gharai, Nalini Bera and Kapil Krishna Thakur. I will show how the cultural register of the subaltern world poses a stiff challenge to the linguistic competence of the non-Dalit translator. I would also take up a couple of Dalit poems to show the problematic transfer of rhyme and rhythm from the original to the target language. The extreme regional variation of Bangla can always be a source of anxiety for the translator. Politics of representation through translation would definitely figure in a big way in my deliberation.
Bionote: Dr Indranil Acharya is Associate Professor and former Head of the Department of English, Vidyasagar University, West Bengal. He completed two UGC Projects on Australian and Indian Indigenous traditions in 2008 and 2015. Dr Acharya was the Deputy Coordinator of the UGC-SAP and State Coordinator of the PLSI since 2009. He worked on the documentation and translation of the oral and folk literature of Dalit and tribal communities in West Bengal. His authored/edited/translated books are- Beyond the Sense of Belonging: Race, Class and Gender in the Poetry of Yeats and Eliot (2011), Survival and Other Stories: Anthology of Bangla Dalit Stories (OBS; 2012), Towards Social Change: Essays on Dalit Literature (OBS; 2014), Listen to the Flames: Texts and Readings from the Margins (OUP; 2016), Paschimbanger Bhasha (OBS; 2017) and Smritibiloper Pore (OBS; 2017). Two more publications on translation (Sahitya Akademi) and language documentation (Springer) are in press. He is also the Chief Editor of Janajati Darpan, the only international multilingual journal from Bengal on tribal studies. Dr Acharya has presented his research papers in Bridgewater Conference, Virginia, USA (2015) and Lancaster University, UK (2015).
Translating the Margins: Subverting the Hierarchy
Translation of Dalit literature is imperative for the dissemination of such literature to a larger reading audience. Issues and problems in the translation of Dalit literature are diverse and different from those of translation in general. It is also important to address these issues and problems that are specific to the translation of Dalit writing. Addressing these issues will facilitate translation of such literature. In a state where the existence of Dalit literature is suspect, translation of such literature becomes all the more mandatory.
My paper will raise some of the issues that translation of Dalit writing from Bangla to English involves. The paper intends to explore issues of politics and identity. But importantly my paper will reiterate the importance of such translations and study Dalit writing in Bangla which still struggles to strive for a space of its own in Indian academia.
Bionote: Nandini Saha is Professor of English, Department of English, Jadavpur University. She has been involved in translation projects. She is currently involved in a project of translating Kalyani Thakur’s writings from Bangla to English.
'Translating Words and Contexts'
Asish Kumar Lahiri
Translator, Pavlov Institute.
Bio-note: Lahiri is a writer, translator, lexicographer and an independent researcher in History of Science, specializing in science-culture interface. He writes both in English and in Bengali. Associated with the teaching of History of Science at the Asiatic Society, Kolkata and the National Council of Science Museums, Lahiri is best known for his Bengali translation of J. D. Bernal’s magnum opus Science in History. He is a member of the Pavlov Institute, Kolkata, India. Some of Lahiri's publications include Naxalbari and After: A Frontier Anthology in two volumes (with Samar Sen and Debabrata Panda), Shibram Chakraborty's Moscow banam Pondicherry (On Moscow versus Pondicherry by Shibaram Chakrabarty (with Ramkrishna Bhattachrya). He is the recipient of Rabindra Puraskar for science writing in Bangla (2010), of the Brajendranath Bandyopadhyay Puraskar by Bangiya Sahitya Parishat (2011) for research in Nineteenth Century Bengal and the Ananda Puraskar, 2001 (jointly with other editors) for Everyman’s Dictionary: English-Bengali.
Chair for the inaugural Session: Prof. Jayati Gupta
Jayati Gupta has just completed her term as Tagore National Fellow for Cultural Research of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. She has been working on a Project entitled ' The Cultures of Travel in Bengal' at the National Library of India Kolkata.
Primarily a teacher, she spent her teaching career at the erstwhile Presidency College, Kolkata and as Professor of English at the West Bengal State University. She has taught at the University of Calcutta ( from 1998-2016) had been Visiting Professor at Viswa-Bharati in 2012 and at Delhi University in October 2017. She has lectured at the Centre for Travel Writing, Nottingham Trent University, U.K. In 2010.
Her area of specialisation and doctoral degree from Jadavpur University cover Eighteenth century British Literature and the European Enlightenment. Her passion is researching, translating and writing on Travel Literature which she finds fascinating as it straddles diverse cultures and ethnicities.
She has published academic articles in national and international refereed journals. Her book publications Reading Poems ( Macmillan,2002 ), Narrative and Narration ( Anthem Press, 2008), Annotated Editions of Moll Flanders ( Pearson- Longman 2007) and Hamlet ( Orient Black Swan 2015). Stories she translated were included in Bashabi Fraser's A Collection of Partition Narratives ( Anthem Press, 2006) and The Other Voice ( Anustup, 2013).