CALL FOR PAPERS - ESTIDIA European Society for Transcultural and Interdisciplinary Dialogue
From the Socratic dialogues to post-modern cyberchats, it is only in and through communicative interaction that we can understand the world, people, and how things are working around us (Bohm, 2004/1996, Rockwell 2003). By means of dialogue people are able to argue for their viewpoints, to come to terms with each other, to jointly solve problems, and to resolve conflicts (Pickering and Garrod 2021). Dialogue brings together women and men, young and old, people from the east and the west, from the north and the south. Through the creative synergy of shared thoughts, ideas, and experiences, we can travel anywhere in space and time. The ongoing proliferation of new communication channels on social media platforms (Whatsapp, Facebook, YouTube, webchat, chatbots) is expanding the opportunities for multi-participant and multi-purpose dialogue involving people from across the world willing to share information and current concerns (Papacharissi 2002). At the same time, however, recent trends in dialogue practices, primarily on new digital platforms, reveal worrying signs of growing misunderstanding, opinion bias, as well as extreme and conflicting position-takings. Many situations of communication break-down are caused not necessarily by faulty technology, but rather by certain users’ deliberate interference with and suppression of free public dialogue. At the core of these situations lie several communication-related paradoxes.
A first paradox concerns the tendency to introduce and encourage redundant monologues (instances of ad nauseum fallacy) in environments that are normally dedicated to open-ended dialogues. While there is ample user participation in a genuinely free exchange of ideas, some users exhibit a closed mindset, aggressively promoting their own interests and short-circuiting independent thinking, showing reluctance to learn about and try to understand other viewpoints that do not resonate with theirs.
A second paradox concerns the tendency to reduce the plurality and diversity of perspectives in open-ended dialogue to an oversimplified binary opposition by means of false dilemma fallacy. This is explicitly displayed in interviews where the questioner restricts the respondent’s answering options to ‘yes’ or ‘no’, or on digital platforms, where only two options are available for expressing one’s opinion: ‘like’ (thumbs up) or ‘dislike’ (thumbs down). An interactive dialogue is thus restricted to simply expressing agreement or disagreement, denying the middle ground (“Maybe…”) or any qualified response (“Another way of looking at it …”).
A third paradox concerns the tendency to exclude (‘othering’), rather than to include (bringing people together through dialogue), creating division by discrediting and viciously attacking a person rather than their views, based on social, political, racial, ethnic or religious background (ad hominem fallacy), often resorting to abusive threats (ad baculum fallacy). By blocking or distorting the meanings of other dialogue platform users, such confrontational and aggressive behaviour is meant to trigger compliance from and to embolden hate groups.
Manipulating behaviours like the ones presented above can seriously discourage and obstruct a trust-based dialogic exchange of views, disconnecting instead of connecting, creating divisions between those easily persuaded by relentless false or abusive statements and those engaged in open-minded, argument-driven dialogue. Counteracting such tendencies requires decisive and sustained collaborative action to generate shared meaning within and across language and cultures.
A special strand of research that will be foregrounded at this conference concerns theoretical and practical aspects of translation and interpreting. Through its own (communicative) nature, the field of Translation and Interpreting plays a decisive role in this attempt to counteract redundant monologues, binary discursive structures, exclusionist and manipulative communication, providing an array of instruments (scholarly, pedagogical, and professional) to meet the needs of other (neighboring) fields under this joint aim. The common ground it shares with cross-cultural and cross-linguistic domains, makes it a sine-qua-non presence in any debate with an agenda such as this one.
The development of communication (including digital) and transnational financial and political relations, together with cheaper transport from the mid-20th century on, made it necessary to respond to an ever-growing demand for multilingual
communication, which led to the professionalization of Translation and Interpreting. In recent years, the growth of migration flows has brought such linguistic diversity that communication is often blocked by barriers (linguistic or behavioral) in the destination countries between service-providers and service-seekers. So far, research in this domain has focused on the analysis of dialogue needs, interpreting deontological requirements, situational variables, and interpreting process and product descriptions. Nowadays, topics such as remote interpreting (a controversial modality), professional threats (such as computers replacing humans or the generalized use of ELF), signed interpreting, ethical issues surrounding the interpreter-mediator binomial, or the psychological dimension (emotions, vicarious trauma) that characterizes dialogical interpreting as distinct from other domains, are some of the topics that raise scholarly attention. Contributions in any of these directions and especially in the more recent ones are encouraged.