Keynote: A Dialogue between Susan Bassnett and Lucy Bond on Memory and Translation


Bassnett, Susan (Warwick)

Susan Bassnett was educated in Denmark, Portugal and Italy, acquiring various languages in childhood. She established postgraduate programmes in Comparative Literature and then in Translation Studies at the University of Warwick where she also served twice as Pro-Vice-Chancellor. She continues to lecture and run workshops around the world and her current research is on translation and memory. She is an elected Fellow of the Institute of Linguists, elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a Fellow of the Academia Europaea. In recent years she has acted as judge of a number of major literary prizes including the Times/Stephen Spender Poetry in Translation Prize, the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize and the IMPAC Dublin prize. She is also known for her journalism, translations and poetry.



Bond, Lucy (Westminster)

Lucy Bond specialises in contemporary American literature and culture, memory, and trauma. She joined the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at Westminster as a Teaching and Research Fellow in 2012. Prior to this appointment, she taught and studied in a variety of institutional environments in the UK and US. She holds a First Class degree in English (BA Hons) from the University of Cambridge (2005), an MA in Cultural Memory from the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies in the School of Advanced Study (2008), and a PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Goldsmiths, University of London (2012). She received research grants from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) for her Masters and doctoral study. In 2010, she was a British Research Council Fellow at the John W Kluge Center, Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Her teaching and research interests focus upon contemporary American literature and culture; cultural memory; 9/11; the Holocaust; trauma; the Anthropocene and environmental memory. She is course leader for the BA (Hons) English Literature.




Ahmed, Maaheen (Ghent)

Memories in Comics: Translations across Words and Pictures          

Short Biography:

Maaheen Ahmed is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at Ghent University and Principal Investigator of COMICS, a five-year project on children in European comics funded by the European Research Council.

Her first book Openness of Comics: Generating Meaning within Flexible Structures was published by the University Press of Mississippi in 2016. A second monograph, Monstrous Imaginaries: The Legacy of Romanticism in Comics is forthcoming. She has edited anthologies and journal issues on diverse themes ranging from comics legitimation, representations of WWI in comics and comics authorship. She recently edited Comics Memory: Archives and Styles (Palgrave 2018) with Benoît Crucifix.


“The dynamics of cultural memory […] is closely linked up with processes of remediation”, assert cultural and literary studies scholars Astrid Erll and Ann Rigney, emphasizing the factor of mediation which, although always present, has never before been this intense owing to the omnipresence of media in contemporary reality (Mediation, Remediation and the Dynamics of Cultural Memory, 5). In a rare moment, even for the inescapably interdisciplinary field of memory studies, Erll and Rigney take up Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin’s concept of remediation which examines the incorporation of techniques and codes of older media by newer ones in an act of both “homage and rivalry” (Remediation: Understanding New Media, 49). Arguing for a translation across media, across words and pictures, I introduce the concept of media memories or images, tropes and techniques that persist, in varying forms across media, adapting to fit each new habitat while retaining certain core features and connotations. They reflect the formation of memories through media as well as the presence of media in memory narratives and ultimately the memories of media.

I use this concept to look at recent (pseudo-)autobiographical comics (David B.’s L’Ascension du Haut Mal, Paul Hornschemeier’s Mother Come Home, Willy Vandersteen’s Elephant Years) to tease out the creative interconnections and negotiations at work in the translation of memories and ideas into word and image. I focus in particular on the media memories of bodies, spaces and specific objects (all of which are deliberately loaded categories) to show how they rework particular media memories to translate fictional and real memories into comics.

Alhussein, Akkad (Mainz)

Translating Memory – Memorizing translation: Self-translation, Exile and Identity in bilingual Arabic authors

Short Biography:

Akkad Alhussein received his Master’s degree in Translation, Language and Culture from the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz in 2011. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in Translation Studies at the same university under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Dilek Dizdar.


The problem of having to relate two distinct idioms to one another and still remain authentic represents an enduring challenge for many writers who (through exile or free will) leave their own country and adopt another language. Often, these writers move between languages and cultures participating in intercultural exchange processes and engaging, through translation, in dialogue with their past trying to overcome boundaries and initiate new forms of meaning, thus ensuring their continuity as writers. In some cases, the author decides to take the task of translation on his/her own shoulder, leading to what we call a self- or auto-translation where source text and target text are both produced by one hand. Because of the inherently complex layers of personal, cultural, esthetic, political and emotional motivation and the proximity of the involved linguistic, cultural, social and historical realities which come together in the person of the bilingual author, the act of self-translation offers a unique opportunity not only for deconstructing some binary opposition pertaining to translation theory and history but also for the analysis of the various areas of tension and conflict in dealing with questions of identity in transcultural contexts. Clearly, a conventional ST-TT/SL-TL schema does not work here. In this paper, I am going to examine the relationship between ST and TT in the context of Arabic bilingual authors engaging in translational activity and intercultural exchange. First, I will discuss the role and significance of self-translation as a special, hybrid form of interlingual and transcultural production. Then, I will investigate some of the ways how and the motives why Arabic bilingual authors living in Exile use translation as a means to reflect on their mother tongue, memory, past and identity, thus building unique dialogical relations across space and time.

Barakat, Tamara (Durham)

Memory, Displacement, and Translation in Leila Abdelrazaq’s Baddawi (2015)

Short Biography:

Tamara Barakat is a PhD student in Translation Studies at Durham University, UK. Her thesis investigates the role translation plays in the mediation of collective and cultural memory, focusing on Palestinian memory. Her interdisciplinary research contributes to the emerging debate on translation and memory and introduces new theoretical and methodological directions in Translation, Memory, and Palestinian Studies.


Approaching translation from the perspective of Memory Studies, this paper explores the role translation plays in the (re)mediation, (re)construction and preservation of collective and cultural memory. It takes Leila Abdelrazaq’s graphic novel Baddawi (2015) and its Arabic counterpart (2018) as its case studies, where Abdelrazaq illustrates her father’s oral testimonies and traumatic memories of the Nakba (Catastrophe of 1948), displacement, and childhood as a refugee in Lebanon. The Nakba marks a key event in contemporary Palestinian history and cultural memory. In the absence of a sovereign state to promote an official narrative of the Nakba, mediated collective and cultural memory become the primary means through which Palestinians at home and in the diaspora assert their identity and counter attempts at the obliteration of their history and existence.

First, this study reconsiders Jakobson’s (1959/2000) tripartite classification of translation and proposes a more comprehensive and precise semiotic theory that accounts for all instances of translation in multimodal media, moving beyond the focus on interlingual transfer. Second, it examines how the linguistic, visual, auditory, gustatory, and olfactory modes of communication are intersemiotically translated in the graphic novel, and demonstrates how they interact in creating meaning and mediating postmemory across Palestinian generations (Hirsch 2008) and prosthetic memory to audiences with no first-hand experience with the events (Landsberg 2004) in both the English text and its Arabic translation. Finally, the author is seen as an intersemiotic translator and her role as a secondary witness who receives, co-constructs, illustrates, and mediates memory is investigated (Deane-Cox 2013; 2017).

This study positions the Palestinian issue within the emerging debate on translation and memory, opening up Palestinian cultural memory and identity to new readings. It reveals the multifaceted ways in which translation serves as a vehicle of cultural memory and contributes to pushing research on intersemiotic translation into new directions.


Abdelrazaq, L. (2015) Baddawi. Washington DC: Just World Books.

Abdelrazaq, L. (2018) Baddawi. Sharjah: Kalimat Group.

Deane-Cox, S. (2013) “The translator as secondary witness: mediating memory in antelme's l'espèce humaine”, Translation Studies, 6(3), pp. 309-323. doi: 10.1080/14781700.2013.795267

Deane-Cox, S. (2017) “Remembering, witnessing and translation: female experiences of the Nazi camps”, Translation: A Transdisciplinary Journal, 6, pp. 91-130.

Hirsch, M. (2008) “The Generation of Postmemory”, Poetics Today, 29(1), pp. 103-128, doi: 10.1215/03335372-2007-019.

Jakobson, R. (1959/2000) “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation”, in Venuti, L. (ed.) The Translation Studies Reader. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 113-118.

Landsberg, A. (2004) Prosthetic Memory: The Transformation of American Remembrance in the Age of Mass Culture. New York: Columbia Press University.

Bollinger, Elena (Lisbon)

Rethinking Authority in J. Barnes’s The Noise of Time

Short Biography:

Elena Bollinger is currently a PhD student in English and American Studies, with a specialization in Comparative Studies, at the University of Lisbon. She has an MA in English Literature (2008), with a thesis focusing on Virginia Woolf's Short Fiction in a dialogue with Turgenev's Sketches from a Hunter's Album. Her research interest lies in exploring cultural, historical and thematic intersections between English Modern and Postmodern narrative and Russian Literature of the XIX century.


This paper aims to examine the figurative succession of symbolic windows, disclosed in Julian Barnes’s novel The Noise of Time, in the light of the question of what happens to meaning when texts are reworded interlingually? Focusing on intertextuality, this paper will consider the importance of the alliance between power and memory, as well as power and forgetting. In The Noise of Time, the narrative construction of the process of memory contributes to shatter ideological chains and fixed structures of meaning by incorporating the harmonizing diversity of a (re)translated literary historiography as potentially restorative and recreative dimension of this text’s structure. Dealing with the cross-cultural rewriting of Shostakovich’s biography, The Noise of Time reorganizes the historical consciousness of literary memory, frequently using free adaptation or loose paraphrase of Russian source texts. The purpose of this paper is to bring some light to the controversial idiosyncrasy of Stalin’s Russia that gives conceptual shape to historical and social contexts reworked in the novel through memory. The literary analysis proposed in this paper focuses on exploring the textual significance of such stylistic devices as quotation and indirect quotation. Acknowledging their status as “borrower and borrowing”, these devices assume, according to Mary Orr, the role of disruptive shadowlands to the firmly established conventions and standardizations of political authority (Intertextuality, 2014). In The Noise of Time, a quotation, by promoting a rather sarcastic use of another’s words by repetition, displays the sequential (in)stability of Stalin’s power and ideology. Producing a gradual distillation of sentiment, quotation openly states a question of the how and why of its repetition, thus assuming its proactive part in contemporary cultural recycling. Barnes’s novel establishes a symbolic bridge between an imaginative performance of Shostakovich’s life under Stalin’s political regime and a factual accuracy assumed by a variety of contemporary, historical discourses, featuring the compositor’s biography. Drawing attention to how, in stylistic terms, the quotations are framed, The Noise of Time acts as a strong dialogic displacement (Bakhtin, pub. 1975) of the performative sequentiality claimed by the official historical discourse.       


Davies, Peter (Edinburgh)

Interpreting at the Frankfurt Auschwitz Trials (1963-65): Knowledge, Memory, Mediation

Short Biography:  

Peter Davies is Professor of Modern German Studies at the University of Edinburgh. His research is concerned with the translation of Holocaust testimonies, and he has published on Elie Wiesel, Yitzhak Katzenelson, Krystyna Zywulsja, Richard Glazar and Tadeusz Borowski. His most recent publications are The Witness between Languages (2018) and the co-edited volume Translating Holocaust Lives (with Jean Boase-Beier, Andrea Hammel and Marion Winters, 2017). He is currently researching the work of translators and interpreters at the first Frankfurt Auschwitz Trial (1963-65).


The trial of 22 former Auschwitz personnel in Frankfurt-am-Main in the mid-1960s was a watershed moment in public debate about the legacy of the Holocaust in West Germany. The trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961 had given the many survivors an international stage for their testimony, but the Frankfurt proceedings brought survivors to Germany, where they could speak directly to the public. Intense media interest focussed on the voices of the survivors and on the character of the accused, ensuring that the seemingly abstract, industrial world of the extermination camp now had to be understood in terms of individual experience and the struggle to find language to express what had happened.

Witnesses were brought from across the world, and their testimony was translated by a team of interpreters. Witnesses had been encouraged by the prosecution to speak German where they could, with the support of interpreters; where they could not, the often multilingual survivors had to choose a language in which to testify so that an appropriate interpreter could be found. The result is a complex linguistic situation in which the witness’ memories are mediated through translation in ways that are often striking and moving, but also often confusing and frustrating. There have been significant historical studies of the trial in recent years, and it has also been the subject of a number of successful novels and film. Despite this, the work of the interpreters themselves has attracted little attention, even though one of them, the German-Russian-Polish interpreter Wera Kapkajew, became something of a celebrity in her own right at the time.

The archive of the trial has recently been awarded UNESCO documentary heritage status in recognition of its significance in the development of Holocaust memory. Using the tape recordings of the victim testimony, which are now curated by the Fritz Bauer Institute in Frankfurt, this talk will set out the linguistic situation of the trial and explore the work of the interpreters. Rather than discussing the usefulness of the documents as historical or legal evidence, the talk will instead consider the different - and at times conflicting - knowledge practices at work in the act of testifying, and consider the contribution of the interpreters to the process of knowledge creation and the construction of the image of the Holocaust witness.


Deane-Cox, Sharon (Strathclyde)

The Memory Work of Translation: Re-presenting French deportee testimonies in text and paratext

Short Biography:

Sharon Deane-Cox is Course Director for the MSc Business Translation & Interpreting programme at University of Strathclyde. She holds an MA Hons in French and German (University of St Andrews, 2003), an MSc in Translation Studies (University of Edinburgh, 2004) and a PhD in Translation Studies/French (University of Edinburgh, 2011). Sharon was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (University of Edinburgh, 2014 -16) to work on a project entitled “Individual and Cultural Memory in Translation: Mediating French post-WWII Accounts of Deportation and Occupation”. She is author of the monograph Retranslation: Translation, Literature and Reinterpretation (Bloomsbury, 2014), co-editor of The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Memory (Routledge, forthcoming), and has published numerous journal articles across the fields of Translation Studies, French Studies and Holocaust Studies. She is also Associate Editor of Translation Studies, and a member of the IATIS Regional Workshops Committee.


This paper will call attention to the ways in which translation, as both an individual and a collective meaning-making process, can impact the transfer and use of memory across languages, cultures and time. More specifically, it will consider the operative role of the translator in recognizing and then reconstructing the epistemological, emotional and ideological valence of testimonial narratives; in this case, those written by French men and women who survived deportation to the Nazi camps during WWII. The paper will first explore the responsibility of the translator as a “secondary witness” to these survivors, namely someone who “provides a witness for the witness, [and] actively receives words that reflect the darkness of the event” (Hartman, 1998: 48). Key questions in this respect are: (How) has the lived experience of the survivor-narrator been received and rendered in the translation? And what are the ethical issues surrounding (i) the translation process as an act of communicative negotiation, and (ii) the translation product that shapes reader responses and understanding? Moving beyond the text, the paper will also focus on any paratextual pronouncements and strategies that might offer further insight into how the past has been approached, valued and actualized by translators and publishers alike. In so doing, the paper ultimately hopes to shed light on the textual, paratextual and contextual mediations that determine the memory work of translation.


Gaszyńska-Magiera, Małgorzata (Warsaw)

The paratextual framing of translations o Le mort qu’il faut by Jorge Semprún into Spanish and Polish

Short Biography:

Małgorzata Gaszyńska-Magiera is a Professor of Spanish and Hispanic Studies as well as Translation Studies at the University of Warsaw. She studied Spanish at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, where she also completed her doctoral thesis on Polish equivalents of the Spanish subjunctive mood in translations of Latin American fiction. She lectured at the Jagiellonian University and the University of Connecticut (Storrs). She has authored numerous publications on literary translation and reception. Her current research focuses on links between translation and memory.


Semprún’s testimonial prose is one of very few literary testimonies from the Nazi concentrations camps written by a Spaniard. The author (1923-2011), born in Madrid, spent his youth in France where his family had moved when the Spanish Civil War began. As a very young man he joined a resistance organization, was arrested by the Gestapo and sent to the Buchenwald camp. After the war, he published several books in which he explored his experiences of a camp prisoner. He wrote mainly in French.

The paper discusses selected aspects of the paratextual framing of the translations of one of his novels, published in 2001. It seems particularly interesting to compare the Spanish and Polish editions of the book as the contexts of their reception in these two countries are completely different.

In Poland, Semprún’s prose was published since the 1960s, almost immediately after the original editions, and was regarded as one of many examples of camp testimonies. In the author’s homeland, the publication of translations was postponed at least for a decade. Obviously, the political conditions turned out to be decisive: Semprún’s works could appear in Spain only after General Franco’s death and the political breakthrough that followed, as the author was an active member of the exiled Communist Party of Spain. What is more, the Holocaust literature started to be published in Spain by the end of the 20th century and became widely known only at the beginning of the new millennium. Nowadays, Semprún’s testimonial prose has acquired the status of uniqueness, as Spaniards, being Germans’ allies, only rarely were sent to the concentration camps, and his “Le mort qu’il faut” has been reedited several times.

The aim of this paper is to analyze the attitudes of the editors of Semprún’s works in both countries as reflected in the paratextual framing of the translations of his last camp novel. Do they thus intend to meet readers’ expectations? To what extent do they take into account their historical knowledge about WWII? What decisions do they take in order to adjust translations to a new context?


Gerling, Vera Elisabeth (Düsseldorf)

Translating Genocide? The case of Rwanda in the works of Esther Mujawayo and Gaël Faye

Short Biography:

Vera Elisabeth Gerling teaches literature and cultural studies with a focus on Spain, Latin America and France as well as literary translation at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf. Here she received her doctorate with a study on reception of Latin American narratives in German-speaking countries: Lateinamerika: So fern und doch so nah? Übersetzungsanthologien und Kulturvermittlung (Latin America: So distant and yet so close? Translation Anthologies and Cultural Mediation, 2004). In 2015, she obtained her postdoctoral qualification with a work entitled: Leben im Text. Übersetzerisches Denken als epistemologisches Paradigma (Life and Text. Translational Thinking as an Epistemological Paradigm.

She initiated the publication series Düsseldorf übersetzt (Düsseldorf translates/d), and, together with Volker C. Dörr and Birgit Neumann, she is responsible for the publication series Transfer (editorial Narr). On translation, she published the volumes: Traducción y Poder. Sobre marginados, infieles, hermeneutas y exiliados (Translation and Power. About marginalized, infidels, hermeneutics and exiled, with Liliana Ruth Feierstein, 2008) and, recently, Literaturübersetzen als Reflexion und Praxis (Translating Literature as Reflection and Practice, with Belén Santana, 2018). Her literary research also focuses on memory concepts in literature, especially in relation to the work of the Spanish author Javier Cercas. Most recently, an essay on this subject was published: “Transmedial translation of 23-F in Anatomía de un instante (Javier Cercas)” (Journal of Romance Studies 16, 3. pp. 39-58).


Any attempt to depict reality in text implies translation. Writing is per se a multifaceted transfer of a specific perception of the world into text. This becomes particularly relevant when texts focus on traumatic events that resist translation. Texts aim to arrange the unnameable through the selection of information, its structuring and narration. However, experiences of exteriotism, to use Levinas’s term, elude representability.

During the genocide in Rwanda, at least 500,000 people were brutally killed in less than three months. The Hutu majority wiped out about 75 percent of the Tutsi minority, involving both government troops and militias as well as the civilian population. What possibilities does language offer us to approach the unnameable without trivializing it? How can such disturbing events be translated into texts that preserve them a place within collective memory without reducing them to historiographical and vaguely verifiable facts excluding the individual or social traumatic perspective?

Esther Mujawayo, together with Souâd Belhaddad, has taken up this challenge by publishing her eyewitness account in book form. Her spontaneous report retains a certain orality, even though it has been adapted for the book publication. By contrast, Gaël Faye presents Petit Pays as a fictitious, yet probable story in which the author himself is autobiographically involved.

The proposed paper will examine the different types of text with regard to their aesthetic potential for translating traumatic events. Subsequently I will analyse the German versions to identify the translation strategies used to transfer these works into other languages.

Mujawayo, Esther und Belhaddad, Souâd (2004): Sur Vivantes. Rwanda– Histoire du génocide, Paris, Éditions de l’Aube.

Mujawayo, Esther und Belhaddad, Souâd (2005): Ein Leben mehr, übersetzt von Jutta Himmelreich, Wuppertal: Peter Hammer.

Faye, Gaël (2016): Petit pays, Paris: Grasset.

Faye, Gaël (2017): Kleines Land, übersetzt von Brigitte Große und Andrea Alvermann, München: Piper.

Assmann, Aleida (2006): „History, Memory and the Genre of Testimony.” In: Poetics Today 27.2, 261-273.

Rosoux Valérie (2007): „Rwanda, l’impossible ‚mémoire nationale‘?“, in: Ethnologie française 2007/3, XXXVII, 409-415.


Harder, Marie-Pierre (Paris)

From ‚Living on‘ to ‚Still Alive‘ and ‚Lost on the Way‘: Exile and Memory as a „Translation of One’s Own“ in Ruth Klüger’s Autobiographical Texts

Short Biography:

As a Postdoctoral Fellow of the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah and research associate of the Centre de Recherche en Littérature Comparée (Sorbonne Université), Marie-Pierre Harder is currently working on a project that investigates the transcultural connections between Jewish memories of the Holocaust and Black Memories of slavery as well as between antisemitism and racism in several autobiographical or fictional texts by women (including Ruth Klüger’s works). After completing a Master’s Degree in Classics (Sorbonne Université) and in Comparative Literature (Université Paris Ouest Nanterre), she obtained a PhD in Comparative Literature (Sorbonne Université, 2018) analyzing the transcultural and intersectional (re)configurations of the myth of Hercules at the Crossroads in European contexts. She is also a translator from German into French.


If, in Eva Hoffman’s terms, exile is an experience of getting “lost in translation”, what happens to translation (of traumatic memories) when performed in and through exile? To what extent can exile be read as self/translation? Ruth Klüger’s autobiographical texts (weiter leben, “living on”, that recounts her childhood in anti-Semitic Vienna followed by her deportation to Auschwitz and her emigration to the US after WWII, published in German in 1992, its English self-translation as Still Alive in 2001, and unterwegs verloren, “lost on the way”, published in German in 2008, that deals with her adult life in the US) offer a complex field of inquiry at the intersection of memory and translation studies.

Echoing Klüger’s own statement that “Still Alive is neither a translation nor a new book: it’s another version […] for my children and my American students”, most critics have provided readings of the re-writing of Still alive as an “American text”. Yet, this paper aims at complicating the binary view of cultural translation and/or transcultural memory as the ‘passing’ (in both the meaning of ‘transferring’ and ‘adapting’) from one cultural (con)text into another. By a close analysis of the paratextual and intertextual (re)framing of Still Alive, it demonstrates that Klüger’s translation strategies produce a more complex politics of address, building an ‘eccentric’ _ethos (and ethics) of translation that highlights intersections of gender and race in the dynamics of memory and metaphorically conceives of translation as a (transmemorial) bridge between her own experience and that of other minorities.

I therefore argue that the “American” rewriting of weiter leben is not the only “translator’s task” Klüger engages in. Drawing on a concept of translation that resists reducing languages and cultures to monolingual hegemonic archives, I explore the intersectional ways in which these three autobiographical texts perform a “translation’s task” – in the sense of the survivor’s task to pass on (one’s) memory. Klüger’s autobiographical (re)writing can thus be read as “a translation of one’s own”, a meta-testimonial reflection on the (un)translatability not only of trauma into language but also of her story into history.


Heinrich, Carola (Bratislava)

The Personal is Political. Staging the Memory of Communism in Romania and Moldova

Short Biography:

Studies in Romance philology, Italian philology and communication science at LMU Munich and the University of Havana. PhD in Romance studies from the University of Vienna in 2016. Between 2012 and 2016 volunteer associate researcher at the Institute of Culture Studies and History of Theatre (IKT) of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (OeAW) in the research cluster Translation. Holding a fellowship by the OeAW Post-DocTrack-Pilotprogrammme in 2016. Currently working as university lecturer of the Austrian Agency for International Cooperation in Education and Research (OeAD) at the Comenius University in Bratislava.


Memory is a retrospective process starting from the present, a rein­terpretation of history determined by the era’s social, political, and cultural cir­cumstances. The past and its different interpretations throughout history are transferred to a new context and are therefore modified. Hence memory is considered a recipro­cal process of de- and re-contextualization, a conflictual process of negotia­tion between elements of the old and the new contexts, and that is what we call cultural translation. Based on this understanding of memory as translation, this paper concentrates on how this process of negotiation takes place in two theatre plays from Romania and Moldova: Alina Nelega’s Amalia respiră adânc (‘Amalia Takes a Deep Breath’) and Nicoleta Esinencu’s Fuck You! . Both plays are monologues of young women recounting their lives under oppressive communist regimes, and showing through short subjective stories how the system affects the individual. The analysis aims to track the particularities of these dramas and their performances that contribute to the negotiation of collective memory.


"Humour and Memory. Romania’s strategy of coming to terms with the past",  in: Carola Heinrich (ed.): Translating ‘the Russian’. Roles and Functions of ‘the Russian’ after the Collapse of the Soviet Union (special issue), East Central Europe 43.3 (2016), pp. 257-277.

“Der lange Schatten der Securitate. Zur Inszenierung von Erinnerung im aktuellen rumänischen Theater ”, in: Gesellschaftliche Aufarbeitung von Diktaturen in der Romania (special issue), Quo vadis Romania? 47 (2016), pp. 34-48.

Russia in Translation. Zur Identitätskonstruktion in der Republik Moldau" , in: DramArt 3 (2014), pp. 22-37.

Macedulska, Katarzyna (Poznań)

Translating the Experience of Genocide in Contemporary Memoir

Short Biography:

Katarzyna Macedulska (Kuczma), PhD (2010, Cotutelle: Justus-Liebig-Universität Giessen, Germany and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznan, Poland), is author of Remembering Oneself, Charting the Other – Memory as Intertextuality and Self-Reflexivity in the Works of Paul Auster (Trier: WVT, 2012), editor of Cultural Dynamics of Play (Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2013), co-editor of Storying Humanity: Narratives of Culture and Society (with Richard Wirth and Dario Serrati, Oxford: Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2015). She has co-authored (with Agnieszka Rzepa and Dagmara Drewniak) the monograph The self and the world. Aspects of the aesthetics and politics of contemporary North American literary memoir by women (Poznan: Wydawnictwo Naukowe UAM, 2018). Currently, her research concerns memory, identity, and narrative in American autobiographical writing.


My intention is to discuss two memoirs – Dydine Umunyana’s Embracing Survival (2016) and Clemantine Wamariya’s The Girl Who Smiled Beads (2018) – that are first-hand accounts of survivors of Rwanda’s genocide against the Tutsi (1994). Read in tandem, these differently penned and structured texts, open up a dialogical space of mutual vindication and interpretation as well as represent through the personal the historical aspects of the massacre, and the authors’ lives in its aftermath. Today, both the women live in the USA; they have acquired English as a second language and the American culture became their other cultural context. Interestingly, they are helped by editors: Elizabeth Evans and Elizabeth Weil, respectively, and reviewers.

Since the memoir as a genre is about recording and interpreting experience as well as transforming the self, I look at the role and position of the two memoirists who translate their visceral experience into a narrative in a foreign tongue, describing their traumatic past that defies accommodation in (any) language. Next, building upon the recognition that a translational reading is simultaneously a transnational reading, which is delineated in The Trans/National Study of Culture: A Translational Perspective (2014, especially the two opening theoretical chapters by Doris Bachmann-Medick and Ansgar Nünning), I would like to trace the process of the memoirists’ migration and transitioning to the other culture in both linguistic and cultural terms, where they try to remain rooted and faithful to their cultural heritage and personal history while struggling to grow and express themselves on the American soil. Hence, I trace how the authors mediate between the (source) concepts regarding their native customs, beliefs, rituals, food, clothes, and the (target) cultural and linguistic American context into which they represent these in the narrative, while they keep surviving their traumatic past that refuses to be past.


Rath, Brigitte (Innsbruck)

Transforming omitted confession: Srikanth Reddy’s Voyager (2011)

Short Biography:

Brigitte Rath is assistant professor in Comparative Literature at Innsbruck University. She is currently especially interested in pseudotranslations („Pseudotranslation“ in Ursula K. Heise, Dudley Andrew, Alexander Beecroft, Jessica Berman, David Damrosch, Guillermina De Ferrari, César Domínguez, Barbara Harlow, Eric Hayot (eds.) Futures of Comparative Literature. London: Routledge 2017, 230-233.), multilingualism ("Speaking in tongues of a language crisis: Re-reading Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s 'Ein Brief' as a non-monolingual text," Critical Multilingualism Studies 5/3 (2017): 75-106), and erasure poetry. 


A generation's hesitation to speak about their experience during the war created silences, omissions, and repressions of memories in families and in society, wrought with the suspicion that these silences cover guilt, that omissions admit collusion, that repressing memories also keeps taking responsibility at bay, shot through with the fear that those repressed memories might come back to haunt generations to come. The ethically right choice, public discourse agrees, was to talk about one's actions and experiences, to confess and accept appropriate punishment, to allow for a working-through.

Kurt Waldheim, former General Secretary of the UN, is a prominent case in point. His autobiography In the Eye of the Storm, published 1985 in support of his candidacy for the presidency of Austria, omits time spent with the Wehrmacht on the Balkans and in Greece. When members of the Jewish World Congress drew attention to the omission and provided research on Waldheim's deployment and duties during the last years of the war, this spotlight on a high-profile politician's war-time actions and his refusal to talk about them led to a renewed and intense discussion whether and in which way individuals are obliged to speak about their involvement in the second world war.

Srikanth Reddy's Voyager (2011), an erasure poetry project in three parts, offers an intimate engagement with Kurt Waldheim's autobiography. Reddy works through In the Eye of the Storm three times and crafts from Waldheim's own words three different accounts of complex experience, in three different genres. The first part explores the form of the proposition, the second that of the autobiographical tale, and the third presents a Dantean journey into the underworld. All three parts question how an "I" may be constrained and constructed by the forms of speaking which are readily available. Reddy's translation and transformation of Waldheim's autobiography opens up a spectrum of different ways of speaking about traumatic experience that disregard the dichotomy of perpetrator vs victim and offer ways to accept one's own, specific responsibility precisely by voicing the complexities of trauma.


Rossi, Cecilia (East Anglia)

Literary Translation Workshops: Bridging Communities Affected by Past Conflict

Short Biography:

Cecilia Rossi is a Lecturer in Literature and Translation at the University of East Anglia, where she convenes the MA in Literary Translation and works as Postgraduate and Professional Liaison for the British Centre for Literary Translation. She has published four volumes of translated poetry (Including Selected Poems of Alejandra Pizarnik and The Echo of my Mother by Tamara Kamenszain). Her research focuses on literary translation process and the interdisciplinary boundaries between translation and creative writing. For her current AHRC Open World Research Initiative project she is examining the role played by literary translation in the construction and preservation of a country's cultural memory, working alongside Dr Katia Pizzi, director of the Centre for the Study of Cultural Memory, and Professor Catherine Davies, PI leader of the translingual strand of the project, SAS, London,as well as project partner AATI (Argentine Association of Translators and Interpreters). In November 2018 she organised the day conference at BCLT ‘Literary Translation Workshops: Bridging Communities Affected by Past Conflict’: for full programme, please see the BCLT website:






For the last two years I have worked on the AHRC-funded satellite project under the OWRI (Open World Research Initiative) call, part of the much larger ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’ project led by the University of Manchester. The subproject I lead aims at examining the role of the literary translator in the process of construction and preservation of a country’s cultural memory. With project partner AATI (Argentine Association of Translators and Interpreters), the BCLT has facilitated literary translation workshops in both Buenos Aires and UEA and have worked with the following writers:  

  1. British writer Giles Foden and his novel-in-progress Belgrano which takes its name from the battleship Belgrano sunk during the Malvinas/Falklands war of 1982 (Buenos Aires, April 2017);
  2. Uruguayan short story writer Vera Giacone and her story 'A oscuras/In the Dark' (which deals with growing up during the last military dictatorship in Argentina, told from the viewpoint of a child) (BCLT, July 2017);
  3. British-American writer, Julianne Pachico, who was raised in Colombia, and her story 'Lemon Pie' from The Lucky Ones (2017) set in Cali, following the death of drug lord Pablo Escobar;
  4. Argentinian writer Félix Bruzzone (representative of the 'Literatura de Hijos' / Literature of the Children [of the Disappeared]' in post-dictatorship Argentina) and his short story 'Unimog' from his collection 76 (BCLT, July 2018).

My paper, based on my practice-led research so far, will examine the potential of the literary translation workshop for creating a space, personal as well as collective, in which narratives are shared, re-imagined, and passed on, as well as investigate the particular nature of this space as an intrinsically transnational, multi-vocal, collaborative and creative space. I will show the potential contribution (as a methodology) that this transnational, multi-vocal collaborative space of the workshop, open to dialogue and creativity, can make to the work of other disciplines and discourses, such as memory studies. I will address questions to do with the ‘ethics of translation’ for translators working on these texts, as well as the more practical questions to do with what a literary translator needs to know when working in contexts which are difficult, conflict-ridden, multi-vocal and how they deal with these difficult contexts in practice.


Ruschiensky, Carmen (Concordia)

Translating the Memory of Trauma: Marie-Célie Agnant’s Le livre d’Emma

Short Biography:

Carmen Ruschiensky holds an MA in Translation Studies and is currently pursuing a PhD in Humanities at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Society and Culture at Concordia University. Her doctoral research integrates three fields – translation studies, memory studies and Quebec studies – to explore the dynamics of cultural memory in Québécois literature, its transmutations within a broader network of cultural production, and the role that translation plays in the construction and circulation of cultural memory across languages, cultures and affiliations. As a translator she specializes in the French-to-English translation of scholarly articles in the visual arts, social sciences and humanities. Her recent translations include David Le Breton’s book Sensing the World: An Anthropology of the Senses (2017) and essays by Simon Harel and Alexis Nouss in Speaking Memory: How Translation Shapes City Life (Sherry Simon, ed., 2016).


Scholars have attempted to understand the representation and transmission of trauma through psychoanalytic approaches (Caruth 1996) or through concepts like prosthetic memory (Landsberg 2004) or multidirectional memory (Rothberg 2009), which consider how more broadly mediated trauma narratives can be at once very personally (vicariously) experienced and also shared across different cultures and historical contexts. Le livre d’Emma (2001), the second novel by Québécois writer of Haïtian origin Marie-Célie Agnant, is a story that centres, on the one hand, on the heritage of the collective trauma of the slave trade over multiple generations, and, on the other, on the relationship between two black women, Emma, a patient interned at a psychiatric hospital in Montreal, and Flore, her translator. The novel foregrounds several recurring themes of trauma literature: the refusal to speak and/or inability to be heard, the need, inversely, to bear witness and to be heard, the transmission of trauma through both words and silences, the quest that later generations undertake to fill the memory gaps, the shame of trauma and the language of trauma. One of the overarching themes of the novel, also not uncommon in trauma literature, is one of translation. Investigating the role of translation in the transmission of traumatic memory in Le livre d’Emma, this paper focuses on two distinct memory translation processes fictionally represented in the novel: translation as secondary witnessing (Deane-Cox 2013) and translation as survivance (Altounian 2000). In Le livre d’Emma, the translator Flore undergoes a metamorphosis as her role as translator progresses from one of “remembering to never forget” (secondary witnessing) to one of “remembering to overcome” (survivance), as she discovers that the story she is translating is also her own.


Sepp, Arvi and Humblé, Philipp (Brussels)

Robert Schopflocher’s Self-Translation in Argentinian Exile: Reflections on German-Jewish Cultural Memory and Collective Identity

Short Biographies:

Arvi Sepp studied German and English Philology, Sociology, and Literary Theory in Leuven, Louvain-la-Neuve, Berlin and Gießen. He is currently Professor in German Literature and Culture at the University of Antwerp and in Translation Studies and German at the Free University of Brussels (VUB). He was awarded the Fritz Halbers Fellowship Award (Leo Baeck Institute), the Tauber Institute Research Award (Brandeis University), the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Award, the Prix de la Fondation Auschwitz, and the Prize for Research Communication of the Royal Flemish Society of Belgium for the Arts and Sciences. His research interests center on comparative literature, twentieth-century German (Jewish) literature, literary translation, migration and exile, and popular (German and American) culture. He published on translation studies, autobiography studies, German-Jewish literature, and literary theory. He has published the book-length study Topographie des Alltags. Eine kulturwissenschaftliche Lektüre von Victor Klemperers Tagebüchern 1933-1945 (2016).


Philippe Humblé studied Romance Philology at the Catholic University of Louvain and holds a doctoral degree in bilingual lexicography (Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina / University of Birmingham). For twenty-five years he taught Spanish Language and Literature, Bilingual Lexicography and Translation Studies at the Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (Brazil). Since 2009, he teaches Spanish Translation Studies and Intercultural Communication at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (Belgium). He has published on lexicography, translation studies, literary translation, migrant literature, machine translation and corpora studies, and intercultural communication in translation. He is currently interested in combining insights gained from these various disciplines to research the impact of (literary) translation on geopolitical issues and the translation fluxes that underlie them.



The intellectual exile is, as Edward Said has it in Culture and Imperialism (1993), a “political figure between domains, between forms, between homes, and between languages” (p. 333). Similarly, the émigré translator can become a catalyst in the conceptualisation of alternative worlds by initiating a dialogue with other cultures and languages. One of the strategies of émigré authors in the exploration of their specific intercultural condition is self-translation. Through self-translation, they address two audiences and perform their fragmented identity between cultures. In Bilingualism and Biculturalism in Self-Translation (2000), Corinne Scheiner emphasizes that the differences between original and self-translated text are “clearly marked as situational and cultural” (p. 87). Against this backdrop, we will analyse in our presentation the situational and cultural premises on which are founded the self-translated texts by Robert Schopflocher (1923-2016), a German-Jewish émigré author in Argentina in the wake of National Socialism. Our paper touches on questions of translation, displacement and cultural memory in the works of Schopflocher, who, from the late nineties onwards, translated his own literary work, originally written in Spanish, back to German for a German audience. In this contribution, we aim to deduce conclusions as to his condition as an exile and his integration into his new homeland. We will expound on the textual specificities of Schopflocher’s self-translations as well as on his reception in Germany. Thereafter, the translation strategies adopted in the German translations will be compared. In these strategies (by means of circumvention, addition, or deletion), the author-translator positions himself with regard to German perpetrations and Jewish suffering. In reference to Alvin Rosenfeld (« Popularization and Memory »), the translations by Schopflocher will be examined in the context of German Vergangenheitsbewältigung. This contribution will show how Schopflocher’s self-translations represent radically different rewritings of his original Argentinian-German narratives and reflect in the late 1990’s a specific stance towards German memory politics and the commemoration of the Holocaust and German-Jewish culture in the Berlin Republic. Indeed, we will bring to bear how the change in memory discourse after the turning point of 1989/90 determined the translations. In this way, Schopflocher’s self-translated oeuvre can be seen as a site of memory that creates a sense of German-Jewish community.


Spiessens, Anneleen (Ghent)

Genocide, testimony, fiction: Remembering and translating Rwanda

Short Biography:

Anneleen Spiessens is a postdoctoral assistant at Ghent University’s Translation department. Her research focuses on testimony and memory from a translation studies perspective. She is the author of Quand le bourreau prend la parole: génocide et littérature (Droz, 2016) and co-editor, with Sharon Deane-Cox, of the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of Translation and Memory.


In this presentation, I will consider the figure of the child narrator in literary evocations of traumatic pasts, more specifically in recounted and/or fictionalized memories of the Rwandan genocide, and analyze the effect of interlingual translation on these complex mnemonic configurations.

The figure of the child narrator occupies a critical position both in African literature (Sow 2011), and in testimonial Holocaust literature since the publication of Anne Frank’s Diary (Coquio & Kalisky 2007). Authors such as Mukasonga, Faye, Gatore, Monénembo and Stassen use it as a narrative device to deliver vivid but critical accounts of the events leading up to, or following, the genocide in Rwanda.

I will focus on autobiographic/autofictional works by Mukasonga (Inyenzi ou les Cafards, 2006) and Faye (Petit pays, 2016). In both cases, the recovery/recreation of childhood memories, and hence the writing project itself, is triggered by a temporal and spatial “return” to the “country inside them” (Faye). I will study the particular polyphony of these texts, where the naïve voice of the child is interspersed with the exiled adult’s perspective, allowing for a critical viewpoint and effects of dramatic irony. The French original will be compared to English and Dutch translations in order to understand the impact of interlingual translation on the literary representation of traumatic memory.


Vezzaro, Cristina (Ghent)

Migration to and Integration in Europe Through the Eyes of a Moroccan Author: Creating Collective Memory Through Translation

Short Biography:

Cristina Vezzaro holds a Master’s Degree in Translation from the University of Geneva, Switzerland and has been a translator since 1994. She has translated fiction, poetry and non fiction from German, French and English into Italian since 2005 (Fouad Laroui, Ulrich Peltzer, Kathrin Röggla, Sherko Fatah, François Vallejo, Aldo Naouri, René Pollesch, Nigel Farndale). In 2013, L’Esteta radicale by Fouad Laroui was awarded the Premio Alziator in her translation. Her own literary production includes contributions for cultural magazines, short stories and poetry.

She is currently a PhD candidate in Translation Studies at the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication of the Faculty of Arts and Philosophy at Ghent University, Belgium, under the supervision of Prof. Désirée Schyns. Her research project focuses on Fouad Laroui’s fictional works in their Dutch, German, English and Italian translation and particularly on the rendering of his irony and multiculturalism. Her current areas of interest include transculturality and heterolingualism, world literature and the “third space”.


The recent migration phenomena towards Europe as a consequence of distress or wars in African and Middle Eastern countries have been making the headlines for the past few years. Literature has intercepted stories of refugees and migrants and their attempts to integrate in European countries, be it in the form of personal memoir (like in the case of Iraqi author Abbas Khider, now living in Germany and writing in German), of gathered testimony (Fabio Geda’s In the sea there are crocodiles) or as fiction.

Fouad Laroui is one of the key figures of contemporary Moroccan literature which, after decades of collective, ideological discourse, is undergoing a phase that started in 1991 – with a process of political normalization and democratization – progressively investigating the question of individual identity (Laroui, 2011). As a prolific, established writer and a professor at Amsterdam University, his writings cannot and will not ignore migration and integration issues. Since his works are translated into various European languages, they are helping create a collective memory of this historical period in its becoming.

If translation is always a transaction, a negotiation between texts and cultures (Bassnett, 2002), translating Fouad Laroui implies four different sorts of transactions: 1) the transaction between the language he uses (French) and the spoken language of some of his characters (Darija), involving a continual tension due to the Arabic diglossia; 2) a transaction between the centric, European and the peripheral perspective; 3) a transaction between transcultural authorship and a multicultural readership; 4) a transaction between a postcolonial past and identity issues.

In Pascal Blanchard’s words (2010), whenever a society avoids admitting its past, marginalizes part of its stories or manipulates memories, it can only undergo an identity crisis. In this sense we can say that literature and literature in translation help create awareness and build a collective memory for present and future generations. From their status as secondary witnesses (Deane-Cox, 2013), while translating history in the making, translators act both as witnesses and secondary witnesses. This paper aims to explore the interaction between translation studies and migration studies in building contemporary memory.


Wardle, Mary (Rome)

“As though carved in stone”: Primo Levi and the (In)Stability of Memory in Translation

Short Biography:

Mary Wardle is Associate Professor of English Language and Translation Studies at Sapienza University of Rome. Her academic interests include the History of Translation, the phenomenon of Retranslation, the study of Paratextual Elements, the didactics of Translation Studies, Adaptation Studies and the History of Publishing.

Recent publications include:

Umberto Eco and the Model Translator” in About Eco G. Adamo and M. Sonzogni, eds. (2015);

Homage, Emulation, Reproduction: retranslation and the visual arts” in Kunstlicht, 3/4 (2016);

Interpreting Fidelity: Gatsby in Translation” in Journal of American Studies of Turkey, 45 (2016);

Same Difference? Translating ‘sensitive’ texts” in Vertimo Studijos, 10 (2017);

Gatsby? Which Gatsby? How the Novel Fares in Italian Translation” in F.Scott Fitzgerald Review, 16 (2018).

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe: The Reception of Retranslations and How Readers Choose” in Cadernos de Tradução, 39.1 (2019).

From Baker Street to Tokyo and Back: (para)textual hybridity in translation” in Palimpsestes, 32 (2019).


“Without any deliberate effort, memory continues to restore to me events, faces, words, sensations, as if at that time my mind had gone through a period of exalted receptivity, during which not a detail was lost.” —Primo Levi

Just as memory creates a link between the past and the present, so translation can bring a text written in a previous period to a contemporary audience. This process of ‘renewal’ unfolds not only across time but also in a different geographical, linguistic and cultural setting, addressing, as it does, a ‘foreign’ audience. This paper sets out to examine the English translations of Primo Levi’s two arguably most famous novels, Se questo è un uomo (1958) and La tregua (1963). Both novels were initially translated by Stuart Woolf into English with the titles If This Is a Man (1960) and The Truce: A Survivor’s Journey Home from Auschwitz (1965). The same translations were later published in the United States with only the titles changed: Survival in Auschwitz and The Reawakening (1986).

In 2015, however, Liveright Publishing in New York produced a three-volume The Complete Works of Primo Levi edited by Ann Goldstein—to date the only edition of complete works by an Italian author in English. For this publication, Woolf has revised his own earlier translation of Se questo è un uomo, whereas Goldstein herself takes on the retranslation of La tregua. In her Editor’s Introduction she comments on “the obvious difficulty in these volumes of many voices attempting to represent the voice of a single writer, albeit in different works” (2015, xx).

This paper will analyse how Levi’s words—and works— travel from Italian to English (with subsequent shifts between British and American English), how they are ‘updated’ for a contemporary readership and how they are ‘packaged’ within a series of paratextual elements including their title, book covers, and bibliographical apparatus.


Zapf, Nora (Innsbruck)

Translatio inferni: Bolaño‘s Memory of the Nazis in America

Short Biography:

Since 2018 Research Assistant at the Department of Romance Studies, LFU Innsbruck (Latin American Literature). Habilitation: Descending as Remembrance: Underworld and Collective Memory in Latin American Prose.

2013 - 2017 Dissertation in Comparative Literature at the Research Training Group on Globalization and Literature: Monstrous Atlantic. Absence and Recurrence in Atlantic Poetics of the 20th century, LMU Munich (Including a stay in Buenos Aires, Argentina).

2006-2012 Master of Arts in Romance Studies, German Literature and Political Science, LMU Munich (Including Erasmus stay in Lisbon, Portugal).

She also translates from Portuguese and Spanish. Recently: Fernando Pessoa: Der Seemann/O Marinheiro. Ein statisches Drama. (Übersetzt zusammen mit Oliver Precht) Turia + Kant, 2016. Mario Santiago Papasquiaro: Ratschläge von 1 Marx-Schüler an 1 Heidegger-Fanatiker. Turia + Kant, 2018.


In the prose of Chilean author Roberto Bolaño, collective memories of traumatic pasts and how to overcome them are at the heart of his literary interest. Thus, he translates one political and cultural Inferno into the other. In doing so, he frequently compares the violent past of the German Holocaust to oppressing regimes in Latin America - such as for example to the military dictatorship of Pinochet in the short novel Nocturno de Chile (1999) or to the horrific underground structures at the border of Mexico and the US in 2666 (2004). He even invents German Nazi poets who influence and mix with the literary scene in the Americas in La literatura nazi en América (1996). In the German reception, Bolaño plays an important role: the translation of the Nazi past into the Latin American present and into a common cultural memory by Bolaño seems to reveal fascist structures in a different way – thinking about them from the „outside“, the cultural periphery. The translations of the most important novels of Bolaño into German come out a short time after their publication in Spain: Chilenisches Nachtstück only one year after the original (2000), Die Naziliteratur in Amerika only three years after the Spanish version (1999). Interestingly, the latter was the first book of Bolaño that was published in Germany and at its appearance, he was invited for the first time to speak at cultural institutions in Berlin and Munich. What do these memory interventions, inventions and overlappings do with the cultural memory on both sides? What Bolaño shows in his novels is that fascist ideas survived the war, as did many Nazis in „exiles“ in South America, for example Mengele or Eichmann before his capture. This brings us to the core of the problem: Does Bolaño show the banality of evil in other parts of the world? And does this crosscultural transplantation of memory change the negotiation of one‘s own cultural past through the reception of translations in Germany?




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