Special issue on "Translating and Narrating Solidarity"



In recent years, there has been a surge in publications addressing the political impact of translation and interpreting across a variety of locations and settings (Baker, 2016a and 2016b; Doerr, 2018; Evans and Fernández, 2018; Fernández, 2020a; Valdeón and Calafat, 2020; Tesseur, 2022, to name a few). In this context, this special issue seeks to highlight the importance of translation and interpreting for the practice of solidarity.

Although this is a powerful and frequently used concept, it is also conflicting and has generally remained undertheorised (as argued by Bayertz, 1999; Pensky, 2008; Featherstone, 2012). In this sense, this project will follow Featherstone (2012, pp. 5) in understanding solidarity as ‘a relation forged through political struggle which seeks to challenge forms of oppression’. Importantly, this also implies that solidarity is ‘transformative’, as it constructs ‘relations between places, activists, diverse social groups’, while creating ‘new ways of relating’ (ibid.). In other words, solidarity does not need to happen exclusively between groups that are similar and homogeneous; quite on the contrary, it can be innovative, developing unexpected links between previously unconnected realities.

In this light, the practice of solidarity shows strong similarities with the work of translation and interpreting, as both seek to establish new connections between individuals and groups. In fact, translation can be the decisive factor in the construction of solidarity, as it brings to the fore an issue or conflict that would normally remain unnoticed due to linguistic and cultural barriers. Despite these affinities, solidarity has been rarely used as a frame of analysis in Translation Studies (some notable exceptions being Abou Rached, 2020; Baker, 2016b, 2016c and 2020; Mortada, 2016). This seems even more striking if we consider that solidarity could play a central role in understanding a variety of issues and practices that are already relevant within the discipline, such as the activity of volunteer translators —either individually (Guo, 2008; Cheung, 2010) or as part of communities (Baker, 2006a; Boéri, 2012; Pérez-González and Susam Saraeva, 2012)— and the involvement of interpreters in the protection and well-being of migrants (Aguilar-Solano, 2015; Taronna, 2016; Fathi, 2020).

At the same time, solidarity can be also understood as a narrative (in the sense proposed by Baker, 2006b): citizens and activists who engage in the practice of solidarity frequently rely on a narrative, that is, a kind of shared story that guides their behaviour and legitimises their purposes and motivations, shaping the identities of those involved in the process and the elements that bring them together. While some narratives might be based on ‘universal’ values (e.g. justice, human rights, moral duty), others might depend on more concrete factors (i.e. supporting the same political values or belonging to the same creed). Furthermore, the mobilisation of a successful and convincing narrative is often a key factor for the expansion of a political cause (Baker, 2006b, pp. 21-22), particularly among those who are not familiar with it. Taking into account the great importance that narratives have played in recent research within Translation Studies (e.g. Boéri, 2008; Baker, 2010; Harding, 2012; Probirskaja, 2016; Jones, 2018; Fernández, 2020b) and beyond it (Engebretsen and Baker 2022), this special issue would also like to encourage the interaction between narratives and solidarity as a promising research path.  

A list of potential research topics includes, but is not limited to, the following:

-       Solidarity as a motivation for activist and volunteer translators and interpreters

-       The emergence and development of solidarity campaigns thanks to translation

-       Narratives of solidarity and translation: How is solidarity narrated? Which ‘frames of solidarity’ are constructed through translation? How are narratives of solidarity (e.g. in literature and the arts) translated?

-       Conceptual and theoretical affinities between solidarity and translation

-       Solidarity with/between migrants and the importance of translation/interpreting

-       Solidarity, identity politics (e.g. LGBT+ groups, feminism, Black Lives Matter), and translation/interpreting

-       Solidarity and translation projects for fundraising purposes

-       Solidarity, translation, and interpreting in armed conflicts.


Key dates

1 March 2023: abstract submission to the guest editors (200-250 words; references not included in wordcount). Please email your abstract to both fruela.fernandez@uib.cat and pradalucia@uniovi.es

15 March 2023: notification of abstract acceptance/rejection.

15 Sept 2023: submission of full papers via the journal website.

January-March 2024: notification of peer-review outcome.

April-May 2024: submission of revised versions.

July 2024: publication of special issue.


Guest editors

Fruela Fernández is Senior Lecturer in English Studies at the University of the Balearic Islands. A leading expert in the field of translation and politics, he has co-edited The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics (2018) and is the author of Translating the Crisis: Politics and Culture in Spain after the 15M (Critical Perspectives on Citizen Media, Routledge). His research on translation, activism, and politics has also appeared in The Translator, Translation Studies, and Translation & Interpreting, among others.

Lucía Prada is a literary translator and Assistant Lecturer at the University of Oviedo. She is a member of the research group TradDisc and a co-editor of the bilingual anthology Extrañezas cosmopolitas (KRK Ediciones, forthcoming). Some of her published literary translations include Duty Free, by Simone Lazaroo, and the novel Ambrosio Étoile, by J.L. Rodríguez Tudela.

Both are members of the research project SOLIDARITIES (PID2021-127052OB-I00), funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Research.



Abou Rached, R. (2020). Pathways of solidarity in transit. Iraqi women writers' story-making in English translation. In L. Flotow and H. Kamal (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook on Translation, Feminism and Gender (pp. ??). Routledge.

Aguilar-Solano, M. (2015). Non-professional volunteer interpreting as an institutionalized practice in healthcare: a study on interpreters’ personal narratives. Translation & Interpreting, 7(3): 132-148.

Baker, M. (2006a). Translation and activism. Emerging patterns of narrative community. The Massachusetts Review, 47(3): 462-484.

Baker, M. (2006b). Translation and conflict. A narrative account. Routledge.

Baker, M. (2010). Interpreters and translators in the war zone: Narrated and narrators. The Translator, 16(2): 197-222

Baker, M. (2016a). Translating dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian revolution. Routledge.

Baker, M. (2016b). Beyond the spectacle: Translation and solidarity in contemporary protest movements. In M. Baker (Ed.), Translating dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian revolution (pp. 1-18). Routledge.

Baker, M. (2020). Translation and solidarity in the century with no future: prefiguration vs. aspirational translation. Palgrave Communications 6.

Baker, M. (2016bc). The prefigurative politics of translation in place-based movements of protest: Subtitling in the Egyptian Revolution. The Translator, 22(1): 1-21. 

Bayertz, K. (1999). Four uses of “solidarity”. In K. Bayertz (Ed.), Solidarity (pp. 3-28). Springer.

Boéri, J. (2008). A narrative account of the Babels vs. Naumann controversy. The Translator, 14(1): 21-50

Boéri, J. (2012). Translation/interpreting politics and praxis. The impact of political principles on Babels’ interpreting practice. The Translator, 18(2): 269-290.

Cheung, M. (2010). Rethinking activism: The power and dynamics of translation in China during the late Qing period (1840-1911). In  M. Baker, M. Olohan and M. C. Pérez (Eds.), Text and context: Essays on translation and interpreting in honour of Ian Mason (pp. 237-258). St. Jerome.

Doerr, N. (2018). Political translation. How social movement democracies survive. Cambridge University Press.

Engebretsen, E. & Baker, M. (2022). Rethinking evidence in the time of pandemics. Scientific vs narrative rationality and medical knowledge practices. Cambridge University Press.

Fathi, S. (2020). The right to understand and to be understood. Urban activism and US migrants’ access to interpreters. In R. R. Gould and K. Tahmasebian (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Activism. Routledge.

Featherstone, D. (2012). Solidarity. Zed Books.

Fernández, F. (2020a). Translating the crisis: Politics and culture in Spain after the 15M. Routledge.

Fernández, F. (2020b). The ‘Einaudi libel’: A battle of translations in the Cold War. Translation and Interpreting, 12(2): 7-18.

Fernández, F. & Evans, J. (2018). The Routledge handbook of translation and politics. Routledge.

Guo, T. (2008). Translation and activism: Translators in the Chinese Communist Movement in the 1920s-30s. In P. Boulogne (Ed.). Translation and its others. Selected papers of the CETRA Research Seminar in Translation Studies 2007. Available online: https://www.arts.kuleuven.be/cetra/papers/files/guo.pdf

Harding, S. (2012). Beslan: Six stories of the siege. Manchester of University Press.

Jones, H. (2018). Wikipedia, translation and the collaborative production of spatial knowledge(s): A socio-narrative analysis. Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics, 38: 264-297.

Mortada, L. (2016). Translation and solidarity in words of women from the Egyptian Revolution. In M. Baker (Ed.), Translating dissent: Voices from and with the Egyptian revolution (pp. 125-136). Routledge.

Pensky, M. (2008). The ends of solidarity. Discourse theory in ethics and politics. SUNY Press.

Pérez-González, L. & Susam Saraeva, S. (2012). Non-professionals translating and interpreting: Participatory and engaged perspectives. The Translator, 18(2): 149-165.

Probirskaja, S. (2016). How do interpreters become heroes? Narratives on Soviet/Russian military interpreters. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series:  Themes  in  Translation Studies, 15, 205–226.

Taronna, A. (2016). Translation, hospitality and conflict: Language mediators as an activist community of practice across the Mediterranean. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies, 15, 282-302.

Tesseur, W. (2022). Translation as social justice. Translation policies and practices in non-governmental organisations. Routledge.

Valdeón, R. & Calafat, C. (2020). Special issue: The politics of translation and the translation of politics. Translation & Interpreting, 12(2).