Organized Panel Session
Interpreters and translators have played indispensable roles in war and conflict through history, whether it be in intelligence gathering, combat, propaganda, interrogation of prisoners of war, cease-fire negotiation, military occupation, or war crimes trials. Bringing together researchers from China, Korea, Japan, and the United States, this panel focuses on interpreters who worked in military operations during World War II, its postwar period, and the Korean War. Although firmly rooted in Translation and Interpreting Studies, the panel members take different approaches informed by sociology and historical studies to understand power dynamics among participants of interpreter-mediated communication in conflict, as well as explore issues of identity, visibility, risk, and ethics of military interpreters. For World War II, Luo analyzes the patrons involved in the recruitment, training, and management of interpreters who served in the China-Burma-Indian Theater by drawing on the sociological concept of capital, while Takeda examines archival documents to discuss various profiles of interpreters who were involved as defendants, witnesses, and court interpreters in the postwar British war crimes trials against the Japanese. For the Korean War, with habitus as a key theoretical framework, Kim presents his doctoral research on power dynamics of interpreter-mediated communication among different parties, while Choi addresses the in-between nature of interpreter identity and their roles in wartime mediation. In conclusion, Takeda summarizes the panel presentations by reviewing the different research approaches, key findings, relevance to language issues in current conflict zones, and potential topics and directions of future research on military interpreters in the Asian context.