Tomislav Longinović (University of Wisconsin-Madison)
The Balkan Route: Space, Translation, Imagination
Date: October 9, 2017, 1:30-3:00 pm
Location: Knowlton Hall 190
Sponsors: The Office of International Affairs, The Global Mobility Project
The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees from the Middle East into Europe has challenged the existing notion of national boundaries and demonstrated an increased need for a public policy that would take into account problems arising from the forced movement of population on such a large scale. Media reporting of the crisis focuses on the plight of miserable migrants who are using Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia and Hungary as transition points to reach the wealthier countries in Europe. Needless to say, countries comprising the European Union have had vastly differing responses to the issue of national boundaries and their permeability in the ongoing migration crisis.
This paper uses the innovative methodology of cultural translation to analyze this phenomenon by calling for a new understanding of trauma, space and identity in the Balkans in particular and Europe in general. Translation is understood here not only as a practice that transfers meaning in the narrow linguistic sense of the word, but also as the process by which broader social and political formations are carried over from one culture to another. Or, as the eminent Spanish language translator Gregory Rabassa said: “Every act of communication is an act of translation.” As global subjectivity becomes increasingly dominated by communication across languages and cultures, as well as between geographical and virtual spaces, the universe emerging among the interacting economies is characterized by processes of translation that alter the simplified imaginary perceptions of “others” that are currently built into the cultural unconscious of particular national imaginaries.