Call for Papers

Translating Pain: An International Forum on Language, Text and Suffering

The deadline for call for papers has now passed.

10-12 August 2015, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

Pain is a universal element of human existence but it is also one that all too often eludes
definition and description. In her pioneering work, Elaine Scarry argues that pain defies
language: “physical pain does not simply resist language, but actively destroys it, bringing
about an immediate reversion to a state anterior to language, to the sounds and cries a human being makes before language is learned.” And yet physical as well as psychological pain requires if not demands translation into language broadly defined, whether in academic research; individual and communal accounts of suffering; medical reports; legal trials; performance and visual arts; and a host of other contexts.

On 10-12 August 2015, Monash University (in partnership with the University of Warwick) will convene a forum in Melbourne, Australia focused on the translation of pain across multiple historical and disciplinary perspectives. The forum will consist of a series of keynote lectures, a small academic symposium, and a larger academic conference. The events are co-sponsored by the Mobility, Translation and Identity Network, the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation and the Research Program in Global History.

For the conference, which will be held on 12 August, we invite submissions that explore such questions as:

• What constitutes pain and suffering as categories of scholarly analysis? How do they
extend beyond the linguistic realm to other forms of expression?
• How are pain or suffering represented in historical archives?
• What are the challenges and possibilities involved in examining pain and suffering
across historical distance as well as diverse national and cultural contexts?
• Can pain, as experienced in individual or collective terms, and including experiences
of mass violence and genocide, be translated into language and other forms of
• How can the study of the translation of pain inform current debates and practices as
they pertain to issues including, though not limited to: legal studies and applications;
medical and disability studies, rights, and activism; state and non-state forms of
terrorism and torture; gendered violence; struggles for indigenous rights; and
genocide and mass violence?
Individual proposals should consist of an abstract (around 200-300 words) for a paper of 20 minutes duration. Please include a brief biographical statement with your abstract. Proposals for panels with multiple papers on a common topic should follow the above format for each author and panel chair.