Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Lecture | Gravensteen Lecture

3 June | The Bandung Spirit in the Geopolitics of Translation

  • Lydia Liu
Friday 3 June 2016
Pieterskerkhof 6
2311 SR Leiden

Professor Lydia Liu (Comparative Literature and Society, Columbia University) will deliver the final Gravensteen lecture of hte 2015-16 academic year.

The Bandung Spirit in the Geopolitcs of Translation

Is the eventfulness of translation thinkable as a geopolitical problem? By posing this question, Lydia H. Liu seeks to reopen the relationship between the political and practices of translation in the contemporary world. Her theoretical engagement revolves around how temporality, geopolitics, and competing universals precipitate the act of translation—often in spite of authorial intentions—and how "differentially distributed discursive practices across languages" fundamentally structure the legibility of cultural difference or other such distinctions. Her new research centers on the Great Translation Movement of the 20th century—heretofore forgotten or disavowed—launched in 1958 by Afro-Asian writers and artists in the wake of the Bandung Conference. Her analysis aims to bring that history to light and reassess its worldwide transformative impact during the Cold War and beyond.

Chair: Caroline van Eck (LUCAS) 
Discussant: Limin Teh (LIAS)

All are welcome


Speaker Bio

Lydia H. Liu is the Wun Tsun Tam Professor in the Humanities; Director, Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research centers on modern China, cross-cultural exchange, and global transformation in modern history, with a focus on the movement of words, theories, and artifacts across national boundaries and on the evolution of writing, textuality, and media technology.

Professor Liu is the author of The Freudian Robot: Digital Media and the Future of the Unconscious(University of Chicago Press, 2010). Her new publications include “Shadows of Universalism: The Untold Story of Human Rights Around 1948,” Critical Inquiry, Summer 2014; “The Eventfulness of Translation: Temporality, Difference, and Competing Universals,” forthcoming in translation: a transdisciplinary journal; an essay in The Oxford Handbook of the History of International Law edited by Bardo Fassbender and Anne Peters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012) and “Translingual Folklore and Folklorics in China” in A Companion to Folklore, edited by Regina F. Bendix and Galit Hasan-Rokem (Blackwell Publishing Ltd., 2012). Her other books include The Clash of Empires: The Invention of China in Modern World Making (2004); Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulations (editor, 1999); Translingual Practice: Literature, National Culture, and Translated Modernity (1995); and Writing and Materiality in China (co-edited with Judith Zeitlin, 2003).

As a creative writer in Chinese, she published a new book (in Chinese) called The Nesbit Code with Oxford University Press in Hong Kong which received the 2014 Hong Kong Book Award.

Her most recent collaboration with Rebecca Karl and Dorothy Ko, The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Feminism, appeared in print in the Weatherhead Books on Asia series, published by Columbia University Press in 2013.

Professor Liu was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (1997–1998) and a fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin (2004–2005); in 2013, she was the Class of 1932 Fellow in the Humanities Council at Princeton University.

Among her many activities, Professor Liu established a new Tsinghua-Columbia Center for Translingual and Transcultural Studies (CTTS) at Tsinghua University in Beijing to promote international collaboration and interdisciplinary research.


The Gravensteen Lectures is a joint initiative started by Global Interactions and AMT. This series brings out leading international scholars at the forefront of thinking through historic, contemporary, and emergent transcultural and international connections and their impacts. First Fridays, Gravensteen, 3:00-5:00pm. For the full schedule of speakers and more information about the series, click here.

This website uses cookies.  More information.