24 May 2011

CALL FOR PAPERS: Comparative Law: Engaging Translation (Kent, 21-22 June 2012)

The Kent Centre for European and Comparative Law invites participation in an international conference entitled “Comparative Law: Engaging Translation” to be held at Kent Law School, Canterbury, UK on 21-22 June 2012.

This international conference aims to promote a heightened understanding of the complex translational implications of comparative legal research. The conference’s main assumption is that the question of comparative law is through and through one of translation. Yet, even in today’s globalised world where the need to communicate beyond borders arises in ways that are possibly unprecedented, most comparatists, for reasons which participants will want to explore, continue not to address the issue of translation as it pertains to comparative law. For example, after more than forty years in print and three editions, the leading textbook in the field remains silent on the subject-matter of translation. This conference seeks to attract critical and interdisciplinary papers that will draw on fields such as translation studies, linguistics, literary theory, sociology, philosophy or postcolonial studies in order to analyse the central role of translation in comparative law, understood both in its literal and metaphorical senses.

Participants include Michael Cronin (Dublin City) and Alexis Nouss (Cardiff).
Papers are sought for three panels:
Panel 1 – Translatability Matters
Convenor: Professor Kwai Ng, University of California, San Diego
No serious reflection on comparative law and translation can escape the initial consideration of threshold questions having to do with translatability. Is translation possible? Can translation overcome the epistemological encumbrance of the translator? Can a translation ever said to be true? How much knowledge of a language and culture is required for a valid translation to happen?
Panel 2 - The Specificity of Comparative Law
Convenor: Dr Simone Glanert, Kent Law School
In the light of the knowledge emerging from the first panel it becomes necessary to focus on the specificity of a comparative enterprise having foreign law as its object of study. Can the very notion of comparative law be said to be interchangeable with that of translation? Does the fact of normativity which attaches to legal texts affect the translation process in comparative legal studies? Must strategies of legal translation vary according to the type of comparative legal research being pursued? Can the foundations of the dominant theoretical model within the field (“praesumptio similitudinis”, functionalism, etc.) be reconciled with the lessons derived from a reflection on legal translation?
Panel 3 – Translation Beyond Translation
Convenor: Professor Pierre Legrand, Ecole de droit de la Sorbonne
Against the background of an intensified interaction between different cultures driven by economic, legal, political and social interests, the third panel highlights translation’s more figurative senses. Specifically, it refers to the negotiation and emergence of meaning — a fact always already laden with power relations but pregnant with new discursive and material possibilities — through the disorientation or repositioning of traditional identities. Can processes of Europeanization or globalisation usefully generate a new legal language? Can a practice of constitutionalism be meaningfully referred to in another constitutional context? Can law be translated into economic language so as to allow for the rankings being defended by the promoters of “legal origins”?
Additional details are as follows:

Scholars interested in presenting a paper at the conference should submit an abstract of no more than 400 words accompanied by a short biographical note to Dr Simone Glanert, Joint Director of the Kent Centre for European and Comparative Law (S.Glanert@kent.ac.uk) by 1 September 2011. The composition of the panels will be released by 21 September 2011. Invited participants will be asked to produce a first draft of their paper for advance circulation by 1 June 2012.

A selection of papers presented at the conference will subsequently be published with a major European law publisher (details will be communicated in due course). Contributors will be required to hand in the final version of their paper by 1 January 2013. The final version of the paper must not exceed 15,000 words (inclusive of notes).

Participants at the conference must assume that they will have to cover their travel and accommodation costs. Moreover, there will be a conference fee (£90), to be paid in cash upon arrival, which will include lunches and coffee/tea breaks on 21 and 22 June 2012 and the conference dinner on 21 June 2012. Postgraduate students and unwaged delegates may apply for a fee reduction or waiver.

Canterbury is easily reached by fast train out of London St Pancras (1 hour) or out of Paris (2 hours on the Eurostar to Ashford International and 20 minutes on a local connecting train). A number of B&Bs and small hotels are to be found in the city centre within a few minutes’ reach of the university campus (see http://www.guesthousesincanterbury.co.uk/).

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