Festival of Translators

Festival of Translators
25-27 July 2013, IIT Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, India


In the past five years, South Asia has witnessed several high-profile festivals celebrating
literature produced in India. While these gatherings commemorate the vibrancy of original
writing, we would like to celebrate the art of translation by foregrounding translators and their craft. We do not intend to imply a sharp division between writers and translators, nor an original work and its translation, in fact, we seek to explore how these categories come
together and interact to mutually constitute and enrich each other.
The translation story of India has yet to be told, and due tribute needs to be paid to the
thousands of diligent translators who have linked the languages of South Asia to each other,
and disseminated the rich literature of India to a global readership. Unsung and unknown,
translators of India have brought Sharad Chandra Chatterjee from Bengali to Gujarati, taken Gandhi from Gujarati to Malayalam, and carried Kalidasa from Sanskrit to English.
That being said, we do not suggest that translation is an innocent or apolitical activity, as
some of its traditional metaphors such as “bridge” might suggest. Translation in India thrives in unexpected ways– it both consolidates as well as ruptures linguistic equilibria. It is by providing a forum for translators to share their fertile art of translation with fellow translators and academics that some of this process can be unearthed. The uneven nature of recognition mentioned above also provides an insight into why certain source languages in India continue to be perceived as culturally rich, while others get reduced in popular imagination to mere functionality. To what extent does the choice of a source author, his or her time period, caste, class and gender contribute to the production and reception of a translated text?
Besides the above, we would also like to bring the practice of translation into conversation
with current theories on translation, allowing translators to reflect upon the rich and complex process they are engaged in, and make more general, abstract observations about translation in India and the world. A series of panels discussions will encourage translators to ‘look back’ and ‘look into’ their involvement and implication in (re)producing meaning for target cultures. Many questions of this nature will be raised at the Festival of Translators 2013 to be hosted by the Indian Institute of Technology Gandhinagar (IITGN), 25-27 July 2013, for which we seek your participation and collaboration.

IITGN is a young and dynamic institute making swift leaps in higher education. Along with
distinguished departments of engineering and science, we also have a vibrant department in Humanities and Social Sciences that is actively cultivating a culture of cross-disciplinary
interaction and synergy. In particular, we have a deep commitment to explore uncharted
terrains of cultural thought including the vital role of translations and translators in
contemporary Indian life.
Our team, led by Professors Rita Kothari, Sharmita Lahiri and Srinivas Reddy, is planning a three-day festival that will bring together eminent translators of South Asian literature from around the world who work on a broad range of Indian languages and genres. Panel
discussions on a variety of themes (such as Translating A Classic, Translating The Marginal, From Text to Screen, Gujarat in Translation, etc.), along with literary readings and informal discussion sessions will allow the conference to spark serious scholarly and artistic discourse while providing ample time and space for free interaction and dialogue.

Our goal is to fully document this unique coming together of translators, poets, academics and artists with a hope to bring attention to the far-reaching, yet often unseen art of translation.
The current proposal is to invite about twenty-five well-recognized translators to IITGN’s
campus in Ahmedabad for a three-day festival from 25-27 July 2013. Our budget includes
domestic airfare, local accommodations and transport, event hosting and food. We approximate this to total ten lakhs or ~$20,000, and seek your support in this exciting
We envision this inaugural Festival of Translators to be the first in an annual series of
festivals that will highlight and celebrate the complex modes through which translators and
their translations shape our ever-changing world. In line with the ALTA’s goals of enriching trans-linguistic dialogue, we are confident that a partnership with IITGN will lead to a fruitful and mutually enriching experience for our respective institutions, and both countries at large.
Given the multiple levels of involvement that ALTA has with translation (publications, a
newsletter, annual conference, fellowships and awards), we are confident that the festival will receive robust coverage, attention and publicity. In the process, ALTA will be afforded
significant links and contacts to a multiplicity of Indian translation activities, as well as the
opportunity to interact with hundreds of translation practitioners and enthusiasts who would be in attendance. The festival would thus build upon ALTA’s strong and continued interest in promoting translators and their craft.
We hope the above appears feasible and desirable, and look forward to working with you on this unique and exciting project.
Very truly yours,
Srinivas Reddy

Festival Organizers:
Rita Kothari has to her credit several monographs, translations, edited volumes, journal
articles and book chapters published nationally and internationally. She collaborated with
Suguna Ramanathan on the translations from Gujarati in Modern Gujarati Poetry: A
Selection and Coral Island: The Poetry of Niranjan Bhagat. She is the author of Translating
India, The Burden of Refuge and Memories and Movements. She is the translator of Joseph Macwan’s Dalit novel, Angaliyat, Speech and Silence and Unbordered Memories. She has coedited with Judy Wakabayashi Decentring Translation Studies, and with Rupert Snell Chutneyfying English. She is currently with the Humanities and Social Sciences Department at the Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, where she also holds the Bhupen and Shruti Shah Chair.

Sharmita Lahiri obtained her PhD in literature from University of Houston and was a
postdoctoral fellow at the University of Houston Writing Center. Her areas of interest are
Indian English and Bengali literature. She is an Assistant Professor in the Department of
Humanities and Social Sciences at IIT Gandhinagar, where she teaches a variety of literature and language courses.

Srinivas Reddy studied South Asian Studies at Brown University and UC Berkeley and
works primarily on ancient and medieval Indian literary traditions in Sanskrit, Tamil and
Telugu. His translation of Krishnadevaraya’s Telugu epic Āmuktamālyada was published by Penguin Books in 2010. Srinivas is also a classical sitarist and is currently Assistant Professor of South Asian Studies at IIT Gandhinagar where he teaches classes on Indian music, literature and history.

Festival of Translators Team
Dr. Rita Kothari rita@iitgn.ac.in
Dr. SharmitaLahiri sharmita@iitgn.ac.in
Dr. Srinivas Reddy srinivas@iitgn.ac.in

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One Response to Festival of Translators

  1. aliznaidi says:

    A very good initiative.

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