Although proofreading is my main activity, I am occasionally asked to do Italian to English translations. Exactly one year ago, I was approached by the editor of one of Italy’s main history journals, Italia Contemporanea, with a request to translate 10 recently published articles for a completely new, English-language ‘Yearbook’.
The publication of the Yearbook vaguely coincides with the 70th anniversary of the institute that had launched the journal in 1949, the ‘Istituto nazionale per la storia del Movimento di Liberazione in Italia’ (National Institute for the history of the Liberation Movement in Italy). But the reason behind the decision to launch an English-language ‘Yearbook’ was another: whereas many libraries across Europe are subscribed to Italia contemporanea, historians who aren’t Italian native speakers don’t necessarily read Italian. It was therefore time to offer a new series of publications aimed specifically at an English-language audience.
To be fair, Italian scholars also tend to struggle with research published in other languages. I recall having to persuade an Italian contributor to a special issue (for a British journal) that I co-edited some years ago to at least mention a few relevant English-language publications, as the journal’s editor-in-chief had suggested. This absence was mainly due to the fact that the author didn’t read any English at all.
This is why I think both English-language and Italian-language journals should start offering selected translations, making them available in open access. Only thus, research outputs that would otherwise remain restricted to a specific audience will truly become available to a global readership. For now, Italia contemporanea has taken a first step in this direction, and I am extremely proud to have contributed to this endeavour – by no means an easy one, given the broad range of topics and the varying writing styles I was faced with.
I also strongly recommend anyone interested in Italian contemporary history to have a look at the Yearbook. It offers a very broad and versatile range of articles, from women’s political participation after WWI in the bordering cities of Fiume and Sušak to a gender-focused analysis of welfare history in Italy; from museum representations of the colonial past to the Italian ‘communist question’ in American foreign politics; from recent Italian historiography on 1968 to the relationship between deindustrialisation and industrial heritage in Italy.
And my favourite: the primary role (and struggles) of women translators in the translation industry between the two world wars. It’s amazing to see how certain things (like keeping translators on a financial leash) haven’t changed…
You can access the TOC and download the Yearbook at this link