Numéro spécial de la revue Parallèles.
Guest-edited by Adriana Şerban and Rim Hassen.
Deadline: 15 November 20.
The question of who translates religious writings in general, and holy texts in particular, is just as important as that of how the translations are done, why, and for whom. While translation has often been associated with women (Chamberlain 1988), translators of sacred texts have mainly been men. Translation Studies scholars such as Simon (1996) and von Flotow (1997) highlighted the role of women as translators of the Christian holy writ, but the fact remains that translating a sacred text is a task that requires a recognised position in society, education, and access to sources of documentation which few people, especially women, had until the 19th century in the Western world, and still struggle to achieve elsewhere. Another theme that runs through the (so far mostly invisible) story of women translators of sacred texts is that of authority. Traditionally, women’s role in organised religion was relegated to that of auxiliaries. Thus, in the three religions of the Book, men have dominated in ministry and occupied the positions of power and decision-making at every level of the hierarchy. Although there is more debate around such issues than ever before, and the landscape is slowly evolving, restrictions do persist in many environments.
Despite the adverse conditions, a number of women translators have succeeded in gaining a measure of visibility. Mary Sidney Herbert, Julia E. Smith, Helen Barrett Montgomery, Annie Cressman and Mary Phil Korsak in the field of Bible translation; Fatma Zaida, Umm Muhammad, Camille Adams Helminski, Tahereh Saffarzadeh and Laleh Bakhtiar in Quran translation; Nikky-Guninder Kaur Singh, the first female translator of the Sikh scriptures, the Adi Granth—these are only a few of the women who have made a mark in religious translation. They have in common a desire to “see with [their] own eyes, and not look through the glasses of [their] neighbors” (Smith 1876: n.p.), and to share their insights and knowledge with others, empower them in more ways than one. Even though their efforts have often been individual, several women translators have collaborated with a man, usually a family member. Some of their translations only tackle parts of a given text, and they tend to be for smaller, restricted audiences. In other words, at the time of writing, women’s voices in religious translation remain marginal, especially where holy texts are concerned.
To our knowledge, Women Translators of Religious Texts will be the first publication entirely dedicated to women translators of religious writings, a topic at the intersection of several disciplinary fields, including Translation Studies, Religious Studies, Gender Studies, Feminist Studies, and Literary and Cultural Studies. We propose to bring together translators of religious texts and scholars from various disciplines, working on women translators from different religious traditions and periods.