TM2: Hassan Al-Mohammad

Western Platforms for Freedom of Expression and Poetry Translations from Marginalized Languages: Voices of Difference from the Syrian Crisis

Hassan Al-Mohammad

University of Ottawa

Abstract: With the revolution in communication technologies in our globalizing world, multi-media tools of communication have created global communicative spaces through which networks of translation agents come together to broadcast multi-faceted responses to crisis situations or struggles of marginalized groups in different parts of the world (Baker, 2016; Robertson, 2013). Among these responses are voices of poetry writers who set out to bear witness to human rights abuses and suffering of humans in times of conflict (Forché, 1993). Although research in translation studies has recently drawn attention to translation practices pertinent to voices of dissent or activist movements, little attention has been placed on online translations of the Syrian poetry of witness and the networks of translation agents involved in its dissemination from local into global spaces.

Using the Syrian poetry of witness as an example for translating voices from marginalized languages (e.g. Arabic), this presentation examines the networks involved in disseminating online translations of Syrian poetry of witness since the beginning of the Syrian crisis in March, 2011, placing a focus on the types of websites that feature poetic accounts of the suffering of Syrians caught up in the zones of conflict. The analysis of a wide range of poetry translations from Arabic into English shows that poetry translations circulate on websites with a variety of motivations that shape the selections and dissemination of translated poems. The presentation, therefore, sheds new light into the notion of activism in translation studies and the role of translation in bringing together Western platforms advocating freedom of expression with voices from marginalized languages.

Key words: poetry translation, poetry of witness, Syrian crisis, human rights abuses, voices of dissent.

Bio: Hassan Al-Mohammad is currently a PhD candidate at the School of Translation and Interpretation at the University of Ottawa, Canada. Mr. Al-Mohammad participated in several conferences and gave talks on different areas in translation studies. His research interests include literary translation and its role in raising awareness about the suffering of civilians in dire situations.