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Translating Freedom Reading Group

This research project focuses on translations of 'freedom' in post-conflict settings. Translations of 'freedom' as democracy, human rights, revolution, reconciliation, or in some other form, are a vital component of internal national debates, external interventions and links between the two in such settings. Two sectors have been identified as central to the translation of 'freedom' in post-conflict settings: 1) human rights and transitional justice; 2) public culture, ranging from literature, film and theatre to community arts projects, graffiti and memorialisation. As such, translations of ' freedom' are situated at the intersection of institutions and norms on the one hand, and public debate and creativity on the other. Four country case-studies have been selected for initial attention: Egypt, Northern Ireland, Rwanda and South Africa. The four countries are at different stages on the post-conflict continuum, and provide a diverse set of challenges for the translation of 'freedom' in the sectors outlined above.

Group members:

Ziad Elmarsafy, Department of English and Related Literatures
Paul Gready, Centre for Applied Human Rights
Martin Jones, Centre for Applied Human Rights
Audra Mitchell, Department of Politics
Zoe Norridge, Department of English and Related Literatures
John Schofield, Department of Archaeology
Merran Toerien, Department of Sociology
Lars Waldorf, Centre for Applied Human Rights
Helen Weinstein, Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past

Debating Multidirectional Memory and the Holocaust with Professor Michael Rothberg

Friday 13th January 2012
2-6pm, HRC, Berrick Saul building

Organised by IPUP and the Centre for Applied Human Rights (CAHR) in partnership with the Centre for Modern Studies (CMoDS). This lecture will launch "Translating Freedom" as an AHRC Research Network for 2012, emerging out of the intellectual discussions held in the IPUP Seminar series over the past two years and our more recent reading group "Translating Freedom".

We are delighted to host Michael Rothberg, Professor of English, Comparative and World Literature at the University of Illinois, and author of books including "Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization".


2-3.30pm Public Lecture by Michael Rothberg:"Grandpa Was No Nazi": Migration and Multidirectional Memory in Contemporary Germany
Venue: Bowland Lecture Theatre (free event, not ticketed)

Tea and coffee in HRC foyer

4-6pm Roundtable discussion of multidirectional memory, in Room BS/008 (a closed meeting by invitation only, but please be in touch with Paul Gready at CAHR or Helen Weinstein at IPUP if you would like to participate)

For your diaries for 2012, please note the following dates:

Monday seminars 1-3pm, in the Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building, organized by IPUP and CAHR:

6th February
5th March
7th May
4th June
2nd July
15th October
5th November
3rd December

For more details contact
or Helen Weinstein at IPUP


Monday 3rd October, 1pm to 3pm: "Translating and Vernacularizing"

Lars Waldorf (Centre for Applied Human Rights)

Venue: Treehouse, Berrick Saul Building


  • Eva Hoffman, Introduction in Eva Hoffman, ed., The Inner Lives of Cultures (London: Counterpoint, 2011), pp. 5-9 download pdf
  • Sally Engle Merry, Transnational Human Rights and Local Activism: Mapping the Middle, American Anthropologist 108 (1) 2006, pp. 38-51 download pdf
  • Michael Rothberg, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009), pp. 1-12 download pdf

Tuesday 6th September, 1pm to 3pm: "Translation"

Martin Jones (Centre for Applied Human Rights)

Venue: Lakeside Room, Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East

This workshop has as its focus the act of "translation" as it relates to our topic and our individual case studies and is led by Martin Jones who thought it might be useful to circulate a couple of readings in advance and, after discussion and agreement with Ahmad, have come up with the following:

  • "Languages in Paradise" by Umberto Eco (from his "Serendipities") - download pdf
  • Charles Larson's brief "Heroic Ethnocentrism" (excerpted from his longer article on the topic) - download pdf
  • A report from the NYT on the act of resistance of an interpreter in US deportation proceedings (I have a copy of the longer essay mentioned in the article so please let me know if you would be interested in a copy) - download pdf
  • Finally, in playing with Frost's assertion, that "poetry is what is what gets lost in translation", here is a poem about translation and that which is lost: James Merrill's "Lost in Translation"  (which, in a nod that Eco would appreciate, was published in his "Divine Comedies").

Thursday 14th July, 1pm to 3pm: "Freedom"

Paul Gready, Centre for Applied Human Rights and Helen Weinstein, Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past

Venue: Lakeside Room, Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East


Navigating the Past – IPUP's Research Seminar

IPUP is hosting an interdisciplinary discussion group twice a term, to which all who are interested are invited. The group meets as a brown-bag lunch in the Humanities Research Centre on the ground floor of the new Berrick Saul Building. See below for this term’s programme, and a list of past seminars.


Monday 6th June, 1.15pm - 2.15pm

Contemporary Art or Heritage? - Devices for Public Engagement with the Past and the Present

Nuala Morse (Department of Geography, Durham University) and Helen Weinstein (Institute for the Public Understanding of the Past)

Venue: Berrick Saul, BS/008


Readings (copies will be available to borrow at IPUP office BSB/120):

  • Parr, C. 2006, Public Art:: its role as a medium for interpretation, in Hems, A. and Blockley, M. R. (eds) Heritage Interpretation (pp.123-141) (available in JBM library)
  • Putnam, J. 2001, Art and Artifact: The Museum as Medium, chapter x (available in JBM library) 
  • Fred Wilson and Howard Halle, 1993, Grand Street, 44 (pp.151-172) (available on JSTOR)
  • Pollock, V.L. and Sharp, J.P,, 2007, Constellations of identity: place-ma(r)king beyond heritage, in  Environment and Planning D: Society and Space 25(6) (pp.1061-1078)


Helen Weinstein's Historyworks film of "Five Sisters":

Monday 16th May, 1.15pm - 2.15pm

Bodies of Evidence, Bodies of Memory: Memorialisation and the Genocide in Rwanda

Zoe Norridge (Department of English) and Lars Waldorf (Centre for Applied Human rights)

Venue: Berrick Saul, BS/008


Primary texts:

  • Philip Gourevitch, We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families, London: Picador, 2000 (1998), Part 1, Chapter 1 (pp.15-24)
  • Veronique Tadjo, The Shadow of Imana, Oxford: Heinemann, 2002 (2000), Part 1, extract from "Nyamata Church" to "On the road to Butare" (pp.11-17)
  • Clea Koff, The Bone Woman, London: Atlantic Books, 2004, Part 1, Chapter entitled "Thank you very much for your work" (pp.78-89)

Secondary reading::

  • Paul Williams, Memorial Museums: The Global Rush to Commemorate, Oxford: Berg, 2007, Chapter 2: "The Surviving Object: Presence and Absence in Memorial Museums"


Monday 28th February 2011, 1.15pm – 2.15pm

Walking on the Dead: Marketing and Interpreting Traumatic History The Case of Clifford’s Tower

David Thomas, Interpretation Officer (North), English Heritage

The seminar was followed by a visit to Clifford’s Tower.


Recommended Reading:

Wednesday 2nd February 2011, 2.30pm–4pm

Interpretation Workshop

Venue: The Yorkshire Museum

A ‘Navigating the Past’ workshop led by Andrew Morrison, YMT Head Curator, Yorkshire Museum.

This idea came about as a result of Andrew’s discussion at IPUP's Navigating the Past Seminar about the challenges at the museum for finding a narrative arc for the medieval galleries and appropriate object labels.

The workshop was designed for our IPUP intern programme, to explore issues about interpretation. We were pleased to be joined by a group of IPUP interns and also by the Sensory Stories students so that all could learn about the challenges of interpretation in the medieval galleries under the leadership of the Curator, Andrew Morrison, and the IPUP Director, Helen Weinstein.


Monday 22nd November 2010

Embrace the Margins: Adventures in Archaeology and Contemporary Homelessness

John Schofield, Cultural Heritage Management, York


Recommended reading:

  • Kiddey, R. and Schofield, J. (2010) Digging for Invisible People. British Archaeology 113, 18-23.
  • BBC Inside Out West film accessible online by this link
  • Zimmerman, L., Singleton, C. and Welch, J. (2010) Activism and creating a translational archaeology of homelessness. World Archaeology 42(3), 443-454.

Monday 25th October 2010

The Yorkshire Museum Refit: Did It Let the Light In?

Andrew MorrisonCurator of Archaeology, Yorkshire Museum


1st June 2010: Narrative, Story and Representations of the Past

Led by Professor Helen Weinstein (IPUP) and Professor Lawrence Rainey (English)


  • Seminar Report
  • Recommended reading: Robert McKee, ‘Story : Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting’ (Methuen, 1999), Part 2: ‘The Elements of Story’, p 31 to p 67 (photocopy available from IPUP p/h in the History Dept Office, or pop in and borrow a copy from IPUP office BS 120)
Suggested Viewing

McKee explaining ‘Classical’ story design:


A MckKee seminar as imagined in the film ‘Adaptation’:


4th May 2010: Traumatic History and The Historians

Led by Tea Sindbaek


16th February 2010: Human Rights and Contested Pasts

Led by Paul Gready (Applied Human Rights)


19th January 2010: Cultures of dissent: from biography to oral history

Led by Geoffrey Wall (English)


24th November 2009: Re-enactment and Narrative

Led by Adam Gutteridge (IPUP)


20th October 2009: Commemoration and the Traumatic Past

Led by Geoff Cubitt (History)