Translating Trauma, Witnessing Survival

  • Laurie Ball Cooper
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)


As Ball Cooper shows, translators and interpreters function as key figures in translingual and global campaigns against torture, and in solidarity and therapy initiatives among survivors. Less often considered are the ethical and emotional facets of interpretation. Here, Ball Cooper explores the twin challenges of making torture “imaginable” to listeners without usurping the survivor’s voice and experience. In mediating the confusion or misunderstanding that (mis)translations may generate, she describes the delicate balance of stepping temporarily outside of the role of interpreter to serve as a facilitator, a role that requires a shift between channeling others’ voices and inserting her own. She ultimately argues that just as the work of interpretation requires elements of trust and imagination between the speakers, so does the relationship between speakers and the wider listening public, who might work together to oppose torture.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Laurie Ball Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.AyudaFalls ChurchUSA

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