Participants included writers, translators, publishers, academics and journalists, but also filmmakers and theatre producers.
Underlying the initiative was the recognition that translation, and in particular literary translation, in light of its role as instrument of communication between different cultures and languages, is a key resource for enhancing also the sense of a common European identity founded on the valorisation of cultural diversity. The immediate purpose of the lunch-debate was to gather ideas and suggestions with a view to the organisation of a conference on the same subject to be held in April 2009. The meeting was therefore not meant to produce operational conclusions, but rather to serve as a brainstorming session.
Conclusions from each working group were summarised by three rapporteurs in the presence of President Barroso and Commissioner Orban. In their opening statements they recalled that “unity in diversity” is a hallmark of European societies. The wide array of languages spoken in Europe represents a resource to valorise and a direct indication of how a lively and busy the European cultural scene is. At the same time, diversity on such a scale posits specific challenges. Commissioner Orban outlined the new strategy for multilingualism. President Barroso recalled that, while its primary value is independent of economic considerations, culture in Europe is also an economic lever: its contribution to Europe’s wealth is larger than that of the automobile or chemical sector.
The Lunch-Debate is the first step of a two-fold initiative that will be completed in April 2009 with a conference on literary translation, where a wider public of stakeholders will be invited.
Caption: Participants at the Lunch Debate on Literary Translation and Culture on 6 November 2008.
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