An age of translation

In the post-monolingual environments which make up many modern cities today the process of translation – or more often of improvisation and negotiation between a multiplicity of languages and expressions - has become endless, meaning that many of our long-standing scripts for thinking about cultural production no longer speak to our moment.

Against this background of multilingualism we’ve been considering:

  • The problems and challenges that these plural forms of expression can pose and the potential for French literature and culture, with its strong appropriative tendencies, to absorb any and all these cultural particulars within the folds of its ample Republican robes.
  • How individuals today and in the past, whose experience has been marked in by the process of uprooting, give form to that experience through the written, spoken or drawn word.
  • The distinctions drawn between contemporary migrants and earlier categories of displaced peoples, for whom paradigms of emigration, settlement, exile, and expatriation have been predominant, with particular regard to historical study into the formation of new cultural identities and expressions within migrant and settler communities in North Africa in the 19th and 20th centuries.
  • What happens when these experiences of displacement are articulated through translations and reflections on the words of classic literary texts and how these new expressions reshape and enrich our reading of European cultural and literary traditions.


An age of migration

As we travel further and more frequently our words and stories have become increasingly important as a means to establish our belonging and to build a future in new locations. This age of migration thus requires us to think more carefully about how our languages and expressivities shape and serve our trajectories in and through the world.

Against this background of movement and mobility we’re exploring:

  • The potentialities of language as both a bridge and a barrier to effective exchange and how the design and organisation of shared spaces – particularly those in temporary living environments and refugee camps – can promote community and effective cultural exchange.
  • The varied significances of home for people in positions of transience.
  • The expressive possibilities found for migrant stories in different media and the communicative power of those media to elevate the stories beyond reductionist administrative accounts and sensationalist newspeak to express lived experiences.
  • The roles that new cultural expressions and hybrid forms (bande dessinée, video art, street dance, slam poetry) play in an age of generalised displacement.
  • The unique position of ULIP as a UK institution, both on the continent and yet easily connected to British Isles, and as an Anglophone environment, operating within the resolutely monolingual world of French administration, to speak to refugees and migrants currently in France and yet hoping to continue their journeys to the UK.
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