The American Studies Lecture Series presents "Weaponizing Translation: U.S. Counterinsurgency and the Problem of Language," featuring Vicente Rafael, professor of history, University of Washington, on Tuesday, Nov. 29 at 3 p.m. in the Student Union Building Lobo Room.

Much has been written recently about the rise of counterinsurgency, stressing the protection of the population as the preferred strategy of the United States in its permanent global war on terror. Rafael focuses on two of the most prevalent tropes in the discourse of counterinsurgency: the weaponization and targeting of foreign languages.

Questions he poses are: How is the counterinsurgent notion of languages as weapons and targets linked to the strategic imperative of deploying translation as a means for colonizing the lifeworld of occupied populations? How does the American military seek to expropriate the practice of translation through the development of automatic translation systems and exploitation of the mediating power of native interpreters? What are the limits and contradictions to the targeting of speech and the militarization of linguistic exchange between occupiers and occupied? What do these limits on the weaponization of translation tell us about the vicissitudes of counterinsurgency as a strategy for sustaining the U.S. empire?

Rafael is a leading scholar of Philippine history and politics and cultural studies of colonialism. He is the author of "The Promise of the Foreign: Nationalism and the Technics of Translation in the Spanish Philippines," Duke University Press, 2005; "White Love and Other Events in Filipino History," Duke UP, 2000; and "Contracting Colonialism: Translation and Christian Conversion in Tagalog Society Under Early Spanish Rule," Duke UP, 1993.

This event is co-sponsored by the Departments of Anthropology, Foreign Languages & Literatures, Political Science, and History, as well as the American Studies Graduate Students Association and the International Studies Institute.

For more information, contact Alyosha Goldstein.