Translation and Power

Course title: Translation and Power
Course coordinator:
 Ellen Elias-Bursać
 Ellen Elias-Bursać

ECTS credits: 4
 1 semester (summer)
Form of instruction:
 two contact hours of seminar
Enrollment requirements:
 Students must be enrolled in the 2nd or higher semester of one of the following graduate study programs: English Language and Literature – Translation Track, Comparative Linguistics, Croatian Language and Literature, South Slavic Languages and Literatures.
 final written exam
Course description: 
“Translation and Power” addresses the cultural and political asymmetries inherent in every act of translation and interpreting, the ways translators and interpreters choose to compensate for these asymmetries, and the impact of their choices. The readings will focus on post-colonial translation issues; the ethics of translation and interpreting; the experiences of working as an interpreter and translator in war.
Objectives: To identify and examine the power dynamic relevant to all translation and interpreting through the lens of post-colonial and wartime translation and interpreting; students will reflect on their own position within this power dynamic.
Course requirements: Regular course attendance, participation in classroom discussion, holding an interview with a translator or interpreter who worked during the war in Croatia (to be assigned by the instructor). Final written exam.


Session Topic
1, 2, 3 Post-Colonialism, Power, Translation
4, 5 The ethics of interpreting
6, 7, 8, 9 Wartime interpreting in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina
10, 11 Translating and Interpreting at the ICTY
12, 13 NATO language services in Bosnia and Herzegovina

Required reading will be available at Omega (


Mona Baker, ed. 2010. Critical Readings in Translation Studies. London: Routledge.

Maria Tymoczko & Edwin Gentzler, eds. 2002. Translation and Power.  Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press.

Claudia Angeleli & Ghada Osman. 2007.  “‘A Crime in Another Language?’ An Analysis of the Interpreter’s Role in the Yousry Case,” Translation and Interpreting Studies 2.1.

Catherine Baker. 2012. “Prosperity without Security: The Precarity of Interpreters in Postsocialist, Postconflict Bosnia-Herzegovina,” Slavic Review 71, no. 4.

Ellen Elias-Bursać. Translating Evidence and Interpreting Testimony at a War Crimes Tribunal: Working in a Tug-of-War. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Ian Jones & Louise Askew. 2014. “Bosnia and Herzegovina”.  Meeting the Language Challenges of NATO Operations, Palgrave Macmillan.