Hosting Others: Translating in Canada

by Gaia del Negro and Silvia Luraschi

Breathing and posture, Short lesson of Awareness Through Movement® guided by Silvia (photo: Nabila Kazmi)

In November 2022, Prof. Darlene Clover and Prof. Kathy Sanford, coordinators of the group Gender Justice, Creative Pedagogies and Arts-Based Research Collective, invited us to University of Victoria, Canada, to facilitate an experiential translation workshop with the translation-cardboards that were produced in our previous research Ospitare/Hosting Others. Our visit was supported by the Embassy of Canada’s initiative Canada-Italy Innovation Award (Project title: Changing gendered patterns of power through creative dialogic pedagogies). and the workshop was hosted by the Centre for Global Studies*.

We were particularly happy to think about our work in terms of ecology and culture and identity. On the day, 11 participants (4 PhD students + 7 staff) gathered in a large meeting room with a beautiful view onto a terrace. Some of the international students (from China, India, and Iran) we had met the day before during a talk in a classroom. Staff members included the Director of the Centre and other colleagues, as well as the administrator who organized the event for us – she brought the recycled cardboards too!

*The Centre for Global Studies “focusses on a mandate to promote collaborative, multidisciplinary, and cross-regional research and engage in connecting research in the field of global studies to local, national, and international communities. As such, CFGS is uniquely positioned to bridge academic research and student mentoring with knowledge mobilization and effective community engagement. The CFGS is also host to numerous conferences, workshops and speakers. The center’s activities in Victoria, Canada, and abroad are designed to promote critical citizenship in a complex and rapidly changing global environment. CFGS research and public engagement build upon the University of Victoria’s intellectual expertise in four core themes: governance, environmental challenges, social justice, and culture and identity.”

The participants with Gaia and Silvia photographed by one of them (photo: Nabila Kazmi)

We asked to go outside where Silvia (practitioner of Feldenkrais’s Method) guided the group in a short lesson of Awareness Through Movement® to explore the connection between breathing and posture (Feldenkrais, 1990, lesson 12). This action was different from our original research where Cinzia Delorenzi, a dance performer and choreographer trained in various somatic methods including Body mind centering®, had conducted an embodiment practice of the immune system by sharing some of the creation practices of the performance ‘Ospitare‘ and some materials such as two poems by Antonella Anedda written partly on pieces of cardboard.

A participant writes her translation of one of the two poems with the mouth on a previous translation done in Milan (photo: Gaia Del Negro)

After this body-mind preparation, we invited participants to engage with the two poems by Antonella Anedda in the original version in Italian and with a translation by McKendrick, asking them to produce new cardboard translations or play with previous translations collected from sessions in Milan (June 2021) and London (July 2022).

We positioned the cardboards in the room and outside on the terrace and we took a free walking tour in the temporary exhibition of our artworks.

The video of the project filmed by Filippo M. Ceredi was also shown at the end of the workshop

What were our observations?

The activity we proposed with an experience of embodiment through the Feldenkrais Method in the open air patio, and the creative writing starting from poems, was unusual for the Centre for Global Studies. At the same time, colleagues seemed quite comfortable. Some of them talked about meditation, and noticed that it is not the same as an embodied practice – the body in movement is surprising.

The activity triggered a conversation about authenticity and reliability in translation, and hegemonic powers, and translation as a shared creative experience across professions and lives – we are all translators between contexts and linguistic “islands”.

In a group with different levels of power in the organization of the University, the emergence of the theme of power was particularly interesting for us… in systemic terms (Bateson, 1972), this is a recursive effect because the group recognizes some features of itself and can talk about it. Some persons experienced dictatorship in their home country, and staff participants included a Director and a secretary – who is in fact, we discovered, a poet … and was hence much more competent than the director in this situation.

After work what do we take with us?

After the workshop we continued the conversation with staff at the University Club of the University of Victoria, a wooden building in the woods facing a small lake. We had a lovely time talking about our lives across countries and languages, and we received a suggestion to make more space in our setting for collective thinking about what the participants take with them from the experience of creative multimodal translation.

As adult educators, we are curious about the quality of the space that this approach to experiential translation engenders. It is a non-directive learning space where something is triggered in relation to cultural objects and meaning making (Del Negro, 2019).

We want to keep writing about transitional space in education through embodiment and arts, and to listen trustfully to multiple perspectives in order to explore connected knowing (Belenky et al. 1986; Del Negro, Luraschi, Delorenzi, El Saadany, 2022) and lives that go beyond fragments.

A cardboard translation from London (UK) to Victoria (Canada) hung on a tree on the terrace (photo: Silvia Luraschi)

Composition in nature of two translation between Milan (Italy) and Victoria (Photo: Silvia Luraschi)

A translation from Milan becomes a plant (Photo: Silvia Luraschi)


Bateson, G. (1972) Steps to and ecology of mind. Reprint, Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Belenky, M.F., Clinchy, B.M., Goldberger, N.R. and Tarule, J.M. (1986) Women’s ways of knowing: the development of self, voice and mind. Reprint, New York: Basic Books, 1997.

Del Negro, G. (2019). Transitional/translational spaces: Evocative objects as triggers for self-negotiation. In M. Campbell & R. Vidal (Eds.), Translating across sensory and linguistic borders: Intersemiotic journeys between media (pp. 311-334). Palgrave Macmillan.

Del Negro, G., Luraschi, S., Delorenzi, C., & El Saadany, D. (2022). Ospitare/Hosting Others: Looking for Traces of Transformation in Adults Through Somatic and Artistic Relational Work. INSTED: Interdisciplinary Studies in Education & Society24(2(92), 9-30.

Feldenkrais, M. (1990) Awareness Through Movement: Health Exercises for Personal Growth. Arkana.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s