Into the light

Translations, when published, exist as real or virtual objects. They can be bought, borrowed, read, exploited for further study, shelved or stored. As quotations or paraphrased sections, they may circulate through various discursive fields and thus shape our social life. This is also true for translations in exile in the context of Nazi tyranny. Their creators, however, the translators in exile, have, so far, remained anonymous in public and academic discourse: their names, biographies, work, the scope of agency, networks, translational strategies remain in the dark. The Exil:Trans project has been designed to take these translators out of the discursive shadows.

The prism of exile

Exile means both, loss and rescue. Research into exile is usually associated with scarce and scattered data. For many, escaping into exile not only meant losing their individual centre of life but often also lead – at least for a certain time – to existential margins. Exil:Trans will explore what room for manoeuvre and action the translators in exile were able to open up and shape within the new translatorial setting(s) they worked in (or had even just established) and what roles they played and developed (e.g., linguistic field, publishers in exile, contra-Fascist commitment). Our work will be methodologically based on the approach of histoire croisée – with a focus on biographies and networks.

Reflections: here and now

In recent years, exile has become a reality for ever more people in the world, and even those who live in peace can feel its ubiquity. Translators usually play an important part in establishing, shaping, maintaining or even destroying translocal relations. The translators in exile of our project contributed to sharing cultural and scientific texts, news, hopes and expectations during Nazi rule. At the same time, their work also meant an act of breaking political restrictions. It is thus of importance to gain a solid understanding (and improve discursive visibility) of their conditions of work and life, their settings of interaction and publication. Embedded in a digital-humanities framework, we shall open an e-window for the public to follow the ongoing work of Exil:Trans.