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MC: Boris Buden: On the Past and Future of Vernacular Address (GCSC)

When Jul 17, 2019
from 10:00 to 02:00
Where Phil I, Building B, R.029
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 641 / 99-30 053
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While “vernacular” in the medieval time covered the space of linguistic praxis and corresponding social relations outside of the institutional codification (grammars, vocabularies, imposed norms or standards) and state sovereignty, today it seems to re-emerge in the cracks of an already codified and widely regulated order: in the ever-larger spaces that the broken sovereignty surrenders to capital, in the forms of life, labour and cultural articulation sidelined by globalization, in the praxis of migration and mobile labour, in cyberspace, or in the state of mind of the disenfranchised masses of advanced western democracies who feel abandoned by their political elites. Yet, then and now, a vernacular space has been at the same time a space of the commons and as such exposed to all sorts of enclosure, which is why it is again fought over. Translation was, and still is today, instrumental in this struggle, however, not only as a means of the bordering and hence the enclosure of the linguistic and social commons. It could be also used as a means of resistance. As a form of political address, concretely qua vernacular address, translation was deployed back then to move a passive vernacular population to political action. Could it be deployed again today to reach out to those newly re-vernacularized masses worldwide who, having grown deaf to the language of the ruling elites, increasingly listen to the Siren call of populism?


// Prof. Boris Buden (Humboldt Universität)

Suggested Readings:

  • Boris Buden/Stefan Nowotny: “Cultural translation: An introduction to the problem”, Translation Studies 2/2 July 2009, p. 196-208.
  • Naoki Sakai, Translation and subjectivity. On “Japan” and cultural nationalism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. 1997. (Introduction 1-18)
  • Jacques Ranciere: The Ignorant Schoolmaster: Five Lessons in Intellectual Emancipation, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991.


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