Translating Christianities Colloquium (December 2015)

Colloquium on Translating Christianities

University of Stirling (United Kingdom) 7 December 2015

Little work has been done to date on critical approaches to the dominant discourses of postcolonial Western Society, shaped by a colonial heritage which is frequently described as Christian. Therefore this colloquium focuses on issues of translation and particularly the translation of texts, practices and concepts identified as Christian, from one language and (sub)culture into another, reflecting an interest in translation both in its linguistic and in its socio-cultural sense. Colleagues are invited to present work which can comprise a varied range of discourse types and styles, such as written texts, dramatic and ritual performances, visual representations and oral traditions. The principal objective is to discuss multiple perspectives and methodological approaches (religious studies, history, languages and linguistics, anthropology, literary and gender studies, translation studies) in addressing the issue of how cultural contents such as religious canons, beliefs and/or practices found in mainstream, dominant or elite sectors of society both change and are changed in the process of translation into minority, marginalised or subaltern con(-)texts.

Organised by Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar, Alison Jasper and Michael Marten

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Division of Literature and Languages
University of Stirling
GB-Stirling FK9 4LA
Scotland, UK
Tel.: + 44 (0) 1786 467495 / 46 7506

Some papers have been published in Translating Wor(l)ds: Christianity across Cultural Boundaries, Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz (ed.), (Collectanea Instituti Anthropos 51), Baden-Baden: Academia Verlag, 2019.

See more details at


Sabine Dedenbach-Salazar Sáenz University of Stirling, Scotland

Translating Culture(s)? – Questions about  Andean Christianity

Andean religion has been considered a particular form of Christianity which developed in the colonial era because of the indoctrination and ‘extirpation of idolatry’ carried out by the priests. This presentation asks whether there is such a phenomenon as Andean Christianity and will examine how it manifests itself, in Andean beliefs with some Christian elements, in Christian belief with some Andean elements, in parallel or even juxtaposed systems, or as the creation of a new, hybrid religion.

Sarah Irving University of Edinburgh, Scotland

Nathan al-Hakim: Translating Lessing in Mandate Palestine

In 1932, a Protestant Arab named Elias Nasrallah Haddad, born in Lebanon and raised in a German orphanage in Jerusalem, published an Arabic translation of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Nathan der Weise. Reading Haddad’s translation, and particularly the paratextual materials which accompany it, in this paper I seek to explore what Elias Haddad may have been trying to achieve with this piece of work. Lessing’s work, born from a religious controversy in which he became embroiled in late-eighteenth-century Germany, has become synonymous with a mainstream message of tolerance amongst the monotheistic faiths; what might this Arabic edition have signified, coming from a minority-within-a-minority Protestant Arab in Palestine? Drawing on lessons from Venuti and Spivak, and contra Tageldin’s notion of translation as ‘seduction’, I argue that  rather than blindly taking on ‘colonial’ culture, Haddad was making strategic choices, within his immediate context, in translating Lessing’s work and selecting the values he would highlight in his introduction and commentaries.


Alison Jasper and Michael Marten University of Stirling, Scotland

Women on a Mission, 1918-1948: Translating Moments of eRasure in Mission History into Record


Bill Kidd University of Stirling, Scotland

Notre-Dame d’Afrique – Our Lady of Africa. Repatriating Religion, Translating Exile: The Pied-Noir Experience in Carnoux (Bouches-du-Rhône)  

David Moore University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Christianity, Altjira and Cultural Translators in Central Australia

German missionaries working in Central Australia were cultural translators who had a strong grounding in philology, a discipline which developed in Germany to a high degree throughout the nineteenth century.  The missionaries aimed to translate the Bible and hymn book containing Luther’s Small Catechism, hymns and prayers into the Aranda language.  Their adoption of Altjira for ‘God’ was radical considering the literalness of their translations and their wariness of syncretism. Altjira as a theological key term was problematic and was not adopted by neighbouring languages.  In this presentation, I explore the Central Australian missionary translations and explain how Altjira became established as a key term of Christianity in the Aranda language and possible reasons why it was rejected for other languages.

Richard H. Roberts​ University of Stirling, Scotland

The Transmigration of ‘God’ in the Long Nineteenth Century

Roxana Sarion University of Tromsø, Norway

Challenges and Defiance in the Translation of the Doctrina cristiana in Venezuela

Matías Ruíz Blanco’s (1643-1705/1708?) philological awareness allowed him to translate the main prayers and the principles of Christian life into the indigenous languages in the Province of Cumana in the 17th century. He openly showed his disagreements with the translation guidelines imposed on the “New World” at that time by the 3rd Council of Lima (1582-83) in the methodological handbook Epístola sobre la traducción. (Anonymous,1584).

He pleaded constantly for a different method of translating religious doctrine, in spite of the official guidelines. Although at the beginning these comments were made in the prologues of his works or were inserted in between the lines of the catechetic texts, in Conversión de Píritu (1690) he dedicates a full chapter to evangelization practices and his translation principles, Práctica que hay en la enseñanza de los indios, con directivo para que los religiosos puedan cómodamente instruirse en las cosas esenciales de la religión cristiana.

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