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Core Research Concepts

Our research program is based on three core analytical tools: (conceptual and cultural) translation, herméneutique croisée, and jeux d'échelles.


Following the current conceptual debates in communication and translations studies as well as in sociology and history, the IRTG uses translation as a category of social action, as social practice structuring interaction in spaces of diversity. The IRTG’s focus on mediation and translation processes thus introduces new methodological perspectives for cross-cultural research and area studies. The IRTG enriches the translation concept with insights from media studies, exploring different media as agents in the translation and mediation processes with which diversity is formally and esthetically transposed into multi-layered public spheres, thereby producing and reproducing, altering, deconstructing or radicalizing the semantic repertoire and (historical) knowledge of a given community. In this sense, we also introduce a new approach to the history of memory and the analysis of memory politics by applying the translation approach to phenomena of inter-temporality and to mediation between different layers of historical experience.

Herméneutique Croisée

The international structure of our research program introduces an innovative comparative methodology based on a distinct epistemological principle that we call “herméneutique croisée”. Almost every member of the group of experts carrying the research program of the IRTG has personal experiences with everyday life in both Canada and Germany. The group of Participating Researchers consists of scholars from Germany and Canada who are experts either for Canadian and Quebec Studies or experts for German and French/European Studies. Drawing on different disciplinary perspectives, both groups’ academic interest in diversity also builds on their daily experiences in their immediate life-worlds in the multilingual metropolis of Montréal and in the “Saar-Lor-Lux” borderland, a European region that is historically and politically distinct in dealing with questions of language minorities, problems of de- and re-territorialization, cross-border family networks, etc.

Jeux d’échelles

The research projects pursued by the members of the IRTG are based on a multiplicity of different methodological and theoretical approaches and research paradigms. We play the game of scales by bringing together micro- and macro-analytical perspectives, but also through our empirical focus on the sliding-scaled spatial zones of Montréal-Québec-Canada-North America and of the SaarLorLux region-Germany/France-Europe. We approach these spatial zones as multi-layered, concrete as well as symbolic spatial configurations (not just local-regional-national-transnational or urban-rural, but also public-private, formal-informal, legitimate-illegitimate, actual-remembered-forgotten, etc.) in which micro- and macro-social processes are related and work together in a crisscrossing of temporal levels.
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