QScience Connect explores the role of translation in bridging cultural and societal gaps in the Arab world

26 July 2016

QScience Connect publishes multidisciplinary research to help inform, involve and innovate. In this special issue, QScience connects you to new research on translation.

Hamad bin Khalifa University Press (HBKU Press) has published the latest issue of QScience Connect, an academic, peer-reviewed and open access journal, which aims at bringing academic research, knowledge, insight and inquiry covering subjects from all disciplines across science, health and medicine, as well as the humanities and social sciences, to researchers and the community alike. 

QScience Connect takes an innovative approach to the academic journal, one which moves away from traditional editorial boards and empowers readers to determine the value and impact of articles, based on its usage and citations. This model insures that interdisciplinary work – which has traditionally fallen between the aims and scopes of two journals – finds a home in the world of academic journals. Furthermore, it gives more authors the opportunity to publish as long as they have performed the science, methodology and research in a coherent, original and ethical manner. 

 “By focusing on research that is valid, ethical and important rather than on perceived interest in a particular topic,” said Dr. Alwaleed Alkhaja, Senior Editor at HBKU Press, “the multidisciplinary QScience Connect is an initiative that seeks to make research available to the broadest possible audience without barriers”.

Following the 6th Annual Translation Conference hosted by the Translation and Interpreting Institute (TII), which is part of of Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, QScience Connect published a special issue titled “Translating the Gulf: Beyond Fault Lines”. Holding the same title, the Translation Conference brought together a diverse array of scholars to explore – in workshops and presentations – how translation is integral to the creation of knowledge and the bridging of gaps within and across cultures, in and beyond the Gulf. 

Supporting TII’s commitment to world-class education and the growth of the knowledge-based economy, the QScience Connect special issue published research papers tackling the challenges and the cultural and political divides faced by translation scholars in the Arab Gulf region. 

“The Translation and Interpreting Institute is dedicated to advancing research in the field of translation studies and equipping students for successful careers as translators, interpreters or academics,” said Dr. Amal Mohammed Al Malki, Founding Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, home of TII. “Having peer-reviewed research published, as seen in the latest issue of QScience Connect, is essential as we build our profile in academic and research excellence.”

In “Instigating social change: Translating feminism in the Arab world and India”, Dr Alanood Alsharekh, a researcher on youth and gender demographics, GCC security, and bi-cultural trends, and a specialist on Arab Feminist Theory, addresses the difficult but important issue of women’s representations in the Arab world and India, and the role of the translator in both revealing the problem and presenting an opportunity for change. Feminism is seen as a Western concept, the Visiting Fellow at the SOAS’ London Middle East Institute, University of London, poses, because language in the developing world has not caught up with new concepts in that field. The resulting linguistic inequalities and lack of feminist vocabulary present a hurdle to progress. Alsharekh posits that each translator has an important choice to make, (s)he can either maintain the status quo or become an innovator by drafting new terminologies.

In another research paper entitled “Embedding TQM in UAE translation organizations”, Mariam Alhashmi, from the University of Leeds, explores how increased demand for translations in the Arab world has led to new models of ensuring quality and efficiency. The number of translation projects, Alhashmi writes, has grown exponentially in the region in recent years, which has created a demand for systemization and computerization, most notably a system called Total Quality Management (TQM). In her study of translation projects in the UAE, Alhashmi interestingly found that TQM both encouraged and contributed to the enhancement of the knowledge economy. She then begs the question of whether TQM can be replicated in other Arab countries and if so, whether this could then bring the Arab world to another stage of education and scholarly advancement. 

In the research article studying the translation of novels and short stories written by Saudi female authors and translated into French, Bahia Zemni from the University of Noora Bint Abdurrahman in Riyadh, explores the linguistic tensions between original and translated languages in literary works. Zemni argues that cultural and social nuances are not fully captured due to a lack of translation scholarship - a gap that she aims to fill. Through her examination, Zemni attempts to preserve Saudi women's true identity and prevent the diminishing of culture through the proverbial ‘lost in translation’.  

Salah Basalamah, Associate Professor at HBKU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences and guest editor of this QScience Connect special issue, presents the final paper evaluating the rapidly growing field of Translation Studies. By examining its various trends and streams, Basalamah posits that the relatively new field of translation studies is undergoing a steady fragmentation and ever-growing specialization that may eventually undermine the discipline’s cohesion. Taking stock of efforts to map the varied branches of translation studies, he concludes his article by asking whether translation can act as a lens through which we view our “globalized and confused” world. The objective could be to institute a philosophy of translation within the discipline. Not only would the study itself would become more resilient, but its utility would move beyond scholarly objectives, acting as a prism through which we see society and the world. 

Language is both a vital tool to understanding societal challenges and a possible mechanism for developing solutions. The conference and these articles demonstrate that translation – the process of rendering one language into another – has both different understandings and a variety of applications. Through QScience Connect, we are able to engage with the lively and healthy debate surrounding the role of translation in bridging cultural and societal gaps in the Arab world, and beyond. 

For further explorations of topics, please visit QScience Connect at http://www.qscience.com/loi/connect
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