'Free Translation' as a Critical Method in Socio-Political Design Actions

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'Free Translation' as a Critical Method in Socio-Political Design Actions

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Publication Conference Paper, peer reviewed
Title 'Free Translation' as a Critical Method in Socio-Political Design Actions
Author(s) Keshavarz, Mahmoud
Date 2012
Editor(s) Houlstan-Hasaerts, Rafaella; Tominc, Biba; Nikšič, Matej; Goličnik Marušić, Barbara
English abstract
Practice-based researchers in the design field usually adopt anthropological methods for ‘observing’ or ‘studying’ the field in order to come up with some ‘design solutions’ for a provocative co-designing of socio-political spaces. Usually such approaches move in the direction of legitimization of the ‘design knowledge’. What designers in socio-political action research do is an act of translation, which in various stages of the action gets different shapes (e.g. between their own knowledge and participants’ knowledge). Translation always tries to fill the cracks between an unknown space and a known one. Therefore translation becomes a functional and hierarchical bridge for those who do not know the origin’s language. But such a bridge has many cracks, which in a ‘good translation’ are not visible to readers but only to the translator. Therefore the translator, by hiding these cracks, never allows readers to engage in the work. However these cracks are fundamentally important for understanding the positioning and self-reflexivity occurring during the research. This paper draws a retrospective reflection upon the process of collaboration with women rights activists in Iran and Sweden. By adopting a new politics of translation called ‘free translation’ 5, I argue that action research in the design field needs such a resituational method for formulating actions in other contexts, where the first language is not familiar with the second, third and so on. A free translation brings up questions of ‘qualification’, ‘power’ and ‘legitimization’ and opens a space for more engagement by intensifying the cracks in disciplines, knowledge and contexts.
Link http://www.uirs.si/pub/humancities2012.pdf (external link to publication)
Publisher Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia’s press Urbani izziv – publikacije
Host/Issue Civil Society Reclaims Public Space : cross Perspectives Based on Research;
ISBN 978-961-6390-36-1
Pages 77-83
Language eng (iso)
Subject(s) Free translation
sensory worlds
demystification of languages
conflictual space
Humanities/Social Sciences
Note Human Cities International Symposium, Brussels, Belgium, 15-16 March 2012
Handle http://hdl.handle.net/2043/16087 (link to this page)
Link http://www.humancities.eu/en (external link to related web page)

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