Words Laying down the Law. Translating Arabic Legal Discourse

Gianluca Parolin's picture
Call for Papers
October 7, 2019 to October 8, 2019
United Kingdom
Subject Fields: 
Arabic History / Studies, Languages, Law and Legal History, Linguistics, Middle East History / Studies

The Governance Programme at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC) invites papers in the disciplines of legal anthropology, law and comparative law, legal pragmatics, sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, politics and translation studies for a two-day conference on translations of legal discourse in Arabic-speaking contexts.


What is the impact of translation on the diffusion of legal concepts between domains of discourse? Does the translation of legal terminology modify the perception of the corresponding legal phenomena in observable and applied ways? How are words translated from legal discourse into everyday discourse, and does translation happen in the other direction?


We welcome papers examining translation in the broad senses of mediation, transposition and modification, where at least one of the languages is Arabic in any of its varieties and registers, as used in law-making and law-enforcing contexts, or in popular representations of the law. The papers need not be limited to a specific time period or geographical region; for instance, we will accept papers of demonstrable quality that conduct conversation analysis of legal hearings, as well as intertextual analysis of historical lawbooks, or papers that ethnographically examine understandings of the law in Arabic-speaking countries, as well as study the sociology of translation in state offices handling asylum applications from Arab refugees.


Our goal is to set up a framework for exploring the effects of the moment of translation on how law is applied and understood in Arabic and/or by Arabic speakers.



Please send abstracts of 500 words (excluding bibliography) by 31 May 2019 to ismc.governance@aku.edu


Notifications of acceptance decisions will be sent out by 30 June 2019.


A limited fund to support scholars who do not have access to institutional funding will be available to cover travel and accommodation costs. Please indicate if you need this financial support when applying.





This conference is organised by AKU-ISMC's Governance Programme. The Governance Programme’s annual workshops and conferences explore a range of themes around how Muslim societies develop political systems that promote public welfare, achieve popular legitimacy and recognise minority rights in a time marked by heated debates over tradition, religion and modernity.


Confirmed Keynote Speakers


Prof Myriam Salama-Carr, University of Manchester.

Prof Baudouin Dupret, Sciences Po Bordeaux.

Prof Roberta Aluffi, University of Turin.

Dr Neveen Al Saeed, Ain Shams University, Cairo.


Time and Venue


7-8 October 2019

Atrium Conference Room,

Aga Khan Centre,

10 Handyside Street,

London N1C 4DN

Contact Email: