Major Cuts for Arabic-Swedish Literary Translation

I received a disappointing message yesterday from  ArabLit visitor Anna Jansson, a student at the Literary Translation Programme (“Litterära Översättarseminariet”) at Sweden’s Södertörn University.

Apparently, last week, students found out that Södertörn University has decided to cut the translation program next year. According to Jansson, “this is a really disappointing and disheartening (as well as outraging) decision, since literature in translation from other languages than English already is scarce in Sweden.”

She added that the program has, during its 14-year history, trained a number of literary translators from a number of languages. “Last autumn a group translating from Arabic was admitted to the programme, which was a marked advance for Arabic Literature in Swedish translation (a very marginalized part of the Swedish literary field). Now the training of the Arabic group (as well as the French and German groups) is discontinued in the middle of the planned two-year programme.”

Jansson and her fellow students are doing their best to get the university to reverse their decision, saying that, “we’re spreading the word and letting as many people as possible know that this would be a big mistake  – and furthermore, letting the university know that there are a lots of people who thinks translation is a vital part of a (literary) community, not to say a question of democracy.”

Students from the program have sent out the following message:

News reached the Swedish translator community last week that the literary translation programme at Södertörn University, unique in its kind, is about to be cut due to lack of funds after 14 successful years of training translators from Arabic, German, French, Hungarian, Finnish, Russian, Estonian, Czech and Turkish to Swedish and from Swedish to Polish, thereby contributing to the dissemination of literature in these languages. In its letter of protest Swedish PEN writes: ‘Making literature available is a question of democracy’.

If you want to find out more, you can join the Facebook group Rädda Litterära översättarseminariet vid Södertörns Högskola!


  1. In a press release today the Swedish Academy (among other things responsible for the Nobel Prize in Literature) says:

    Many of the members in the Academy have close experience of the complexity as well as the importance of literary translation. In the light of this we react strongly against the decision to cut the Literary Translation Programme at Södertörn and we would like to emphatically advise Södertörn University against this fatal discontinuation of the programme. (My translation.)

    The press release in its whole (in Swedish) can be found here:

    1. Thanks for the update, Anna!

    2. This is really a shame now when it seems so many in Sweden are qualified translator from Arabic into Swedish. And how are we going to promote better understanding between cultures if we cannot read the other one’s literature.
      I join mentally from Irbid, Jordan.
      Ulla Khraisat

  2. this seems a shame ,suppose just sign of times I wonder how many english translations not been commissioned due to cutbacks ,the arts always suffer first ,all the best stu

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