Public Lecture

The Prefigurative Politics of Volunteer Subtitling in the Egyptian Revolution

Date: 21/05/2014

Time: 2:30-5:00pm

Location: WLB 104, Mrs Padma Harilela Lecture Theatre, The Wing Lung Bank Building for Business Studies, Shaw Campus, Hong Kong Baptist University, Renfrew Road, Kowloon Tong

Speaker: Professor Mona Baker

Talks and other Events


The idea of prefiguration originally derived from anarchist discourse; it involves experimenting with currently available means in such a way that they come to mirror or actualize the political ideals that inform a movement, thus collapsing the traditional distinction between means and ends. Practically all the literature on prefiguration has so far focused on structural, organizational and interactional issues. Existing literature has examined how activist communities attempt to create in their own interactions and in the way they organize their work the kind of society they envision: non-hierarchical, non-representational, respectful of diversity, etc. This lecture will explore the extent to which volunteer subtitling undertaken by disparate individuals for collectives connected with the Egyptian Revolution supports or undermines the prefigurative agendas of these collectives. In doing so, I will attempt to extend the current definition of prefiguration to encompass textual, visual and aesthetic practices that prefigure activist principles and actualize them in the present, focusing on the level of experimentation involved in subtitling video clips produced by two Egyptian collectives: Mosireen ( and Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution (

About the Speaker:

Mona Baker is Professor of Translation Studies at the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, University of Manchester, UK and is currently leading the Citizen Media at Manchester initiative ( She is author of In Other Words: A Coursebook on Translation (Routledge, 1992; second edition 2011) and Translation and Conflict: A Narrative Account (Routledge, 2006), Editor of the Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies (1998, 2001; second edition, co-edited with Gabriela Saldanha, 2009); Critical Concepts: Translation Studies (4 volumes, Routledge, 2009); and Critical Readings in Translation Studies (Routledge, 2010). Her articles have appeared in a wide range of international journals, including Social Movement Studies, Critical Studies on Terrorism, The Translator and Target. She is founding Editor of The Translator (St. Jerome Publishing, 1995-2013), former Editorial Director of St. Jerome Publishing (1995-2013), and founding Vice-President of IATIS (International Association for Translation & Intercultural Studies –

Public Lecture

The Prefigurative Politics of Volunteer Subtitling in the Egyptian Revolution
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