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Centre for Intercultural Mediation

12 May 2021 - 12 May 2021

11:00AM - 12:30PM


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All talks are free and open to the public.

'The ancient/medieval practice of translating holy relics (or what martyrs have to do with guitars)'

Having emerged in the late 4th century CE, the tradition of removing the relics of martyrs and other saints from their original place of burial in order to deposit them under the altar – a practice known as translation of relics (translatio reliquiarum) – quickly become widespread across the Western Church and the Roman Empire, alongside translatio studii et imperii. The translation of relics, viewed as an opposite of pilgrimage to holy sites, brings to mind Schleiermarcher’s classic formulation of the translational problem: who should be left in peace, and who should bear the inconvenience of travel? Unlike textual translation (where the transfer of meanings is imagined), the public, celebratory translation of relics consisted of actual movement, involved physical as well as symbolic elevation, and produced an absence or loss in the original location. A study of this practice, and the broader philosophical, religious, cultural and social economy in which it was performed, highlights a number of ideas relevant to our understanding of translation in its various senses. Chief among them are: authenticity, authority and agency; benevolence, friendship and violence (relics were offered as gifts but also taken by force or deceit); patronage, dependence and subordination. This talk reports on a part of a larger research project exploring the conceptual links between various phenomena, practices and objects called translation, venturing well beyond the territories traditionally claimed by translation studies.

For Zoom joining details, please contact Dr Sergey Tyulenev at