Henry Martyn Trust

Conversion, Translation and the Language of Autobiography: Re-inventing the Self in Transitions to Christianity in India (1700 - 1947)

How does an individual who has self-consciously converted from one religious system to another indicate their ‘translation,’ so to speak, from one linguistic perceptual universe to another? What is lost or gained in translation? How does translation aid the movement of religions across cultures and historical periods?

CCCW is supporting a two year project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research council that investigates the role of translation in the movement of religious ideas and beliefs across cultures and historical periods.

Details can be found on the project website http://www.ctla.llc.ed.ac.uk/

Look out for new seminars in Cambridge during Michaelmas term 2016.

The project led by Dr. Hephzibah Israel of the University of Edinburgh brings together an international team of academics from the UK, India and Germany. Focusing on narratives of religious conversion written by South Asians, the team explore links between the translation of Protestant values across languages and how religious conversions to Protestant Christianity were represented through a range of narratives. Conversions to Protestant Christianity in India began soon after the arrival of German Lutheran missionaries in 1706 and continued through the period of British colonialism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This often led to Protestant converts writing autobiographical narratives describing and/or justifying their conversion experience for both Indian and European audiences. Many of them were translated for wider circulation, with extracts appearing in a range of other secondary sources, such as missionary reports, journals, personal letters and sometimes even legal documents.  The project team will identify and study conversion accounts written in and translated into one of the four languages of the project: English, German, Marathi and Tamil.

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