University of London Institute in Paris

9-11 rue de Constantine
75007 Paris

Seminar series
Dis-placing Politics


Join us for the final seminar in our Dis-Placing Politics series. The evening will feature two complementary papers from Lucie Kim-Chi Mercier (Kingston University, London) and Barbara Cassin (CNRS/ Académie française) exploring translation, politics and post-coloniality. 

Guest speakers and papers

Lucie Kim-Chi Mercier

Translation as Counter-Anthropology: Reframing the 'universal' with Spivak, Balibar and Viveiros de Castro

Over the past decades, the concept of ‘translation’ has received much attention across the humanities and the social sciences, in connexion with the critical reconfiguration of the politics of knowledge under the double condition of globality and postcoloniality. Several philosophers have turned to translation as a way of rethinking universality itself, suggesting we rethink historical and geopolitical difference through the prism of linguistic multiplicity. In these accounts, the internal logic of languages, their ‘idiomaticity’ substitutes itself to the dialectic of the universal and the particular, articulating a universality that is both ‘concrete’ and ‘lateral’, or de langue en langue

This talk will introduce three authors who have recently relied on translation to offer a radical reconceptualisation of universality: translation as form of ‘aesthetic education’ and form of subjectivation (Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak), translation as strategy of enunciation of the universal (Etienne Balibar) and translation as symmetric transformation and exchange of points of views (Eduardo Viveiros de Castro). Lucie Mercier will show that these three authors draw the contours of a counter-anthropology, foregrounding translation as the only mediation capable of producing a unitary concept of the ‘human’. This, she will argue in conclusion, constitutes a powerful antithesis to the post-Romantic, hermeneutical philosophies of translation as ‘trial of the foreign’ (Antoine Berman), which have tended to dominate the French philosophical landscape. Professor Cassin's paper will respond to Dr Mercier's, addressing the politics of translation by critically examining relativism in translation.


18:00 - Papers

19:00 - Discussion and Questions

19:30 - Drinks Reception