Emek Ergun

Associate Professor
Macy 108A

Dr. Emek Ergun is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies (WGST) and Global Studies. She earned her PhD in 2015 from the Interdisciplinary Program of Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Her work examines the ways in which politically subversive texts cross borders in translation and become transplanted in different localities facilitating epistemic exchanges, transformative encounters, and resistant solidarities among feminists situated in distinctive geopolitical contexts. In other words, she studies the political power of translation to connect across borders differently positioned and different speaking feminist communities, which makes transnational resistance to intersecting systems of oppression possible. Hence, her work configures translation as activism, indispensable to the formation and growth of local and global justice initiatives and movements.

Dr. Ergun’s first single-authored book, Virgin Crossing Borders: Feminist Resistance and Solidarity in Translation will be published by the University of Illinois Press in January 2023 as part of their “Transformations: Womanist, Feminist, and Indigenous Studies” series. The book, tracing the Turkish translation of a US-American feminist history book (Hanne’s Blank’s Virgin: The Untouched History), proposes a uniquely interdisciplinary analytical model to study how feminist activists practice eye-to-eye dialogues and egalitarian exchanges and collaborations across borders that are infused with racial fears, nationalistic defense mechanisms, and colonial arrogances. In attending to this understudied question of transnational resistance and solidarity, Virgin Crossing Borders illustrates how ethically accountable and politically empowering translational connectivities can be established along the colonial fault lines of the “west vs east” order, despite its fantasies of irreconcilable differences and uncompromising oppositions.

Dr. Ergun’s intellectual desire to make Feminist Translation Studies and Transnational Feminist Studies speak to each other is evidenced by the two volumes she has co-edited. Her first co-edited volume, Feminist Translation Studies: Local and Transnational Perspectives (Routledge, 2017) has already become a reference book in the field with its pioneering intersectional, transnational, and decolonial approach to feminist translation (rather than focusing exclusively on gender or western contexts).

Then, in 2019, Dr. Ergun became the second co-editor of Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives, which is one of the top feminist theory anthologies in the U.S. The 5th edition of Reader (Routledge, 2020) is composed of four sections and unique due to its rejection of a U.S.-centric genealogical framework and its extensive section introductions that contextualize the contents in the broader historical and intellectual terrain of feminist theories and movements. The edition’s heightened interdisciplinary emphasis on the feminist politics of translation complicates its intersectional, transnational, and interconnectivist lens. Dr. Ergun is currently working on the 6th edition of Feminist Theory Reader with Dr. Carole McCann.

Dr. Ergun’s interest in expanding the scale and scope of interdisciplinary connections between Translation Studies and Feminist Studies also materialized in her contributions to several handbooks in English and Turkish: The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Ethics (2021); The Routledge Handbook on Translation, Feminism and Gender (2020); Modern Türkiye’de Siyasî Düşünce: Feminizm [Political Thought in Modern Turkey: Feminism] (2020); The Routledge Handbook of Translation and Politics (2018); and Translating Women: Different Voices and New Horizons (2017). These chapters stretch the theoretical, analytical, and pedagogical boundaries of Feminist Translation Studies by proposing new directions for the field to engage in dialogues with fields as diverse as decolonial feminisms, queer theory, feminist historiography, black feminism, and hermeneutic phenomenology. The interdisciplinary breadth of Dr. Ergun’s research is also illustrated by the range of her journal publications in Women & Language, Contemporary Political Theory, Feminist Studies, Mutatis Mutandis, Gender and Language, and Feminist Teacher.

Dr. Ergun is also an activist feminist translator and her most recent translations include the Turkish translation of Octavia E. Butler’s classic speculative novel, Kindred (1979/2019) and the collective English translation of Kürt Siyasetinin Mor Rengi (The Purple Color of Kurdish Politics: Women Politicians Write from Prison,) a 2008 collection of essays written by 22 Kurdish women politicians who held office in Turkey but were then imprisoned on political grounds (Pluto Press, 2022).

Dr. Ergun is currently working on her second book, An Introduction to Feminist Translation, which will be published by Routledge in 2025. The book will both critically review the existing literature on the intersecting translational operations of gender, sexuality, and other axes of power, and explore new interdisciplinary areas of research on the subject through various case studies.

Dr. Ergun teaches Transnational Feminisms (crosslisted between WGST and Global Studies), Introduction to Women’s Studies, and the graduate seminar, Feminist Theory and Its Applications. She is currently designing a new course tentatively called “Feminisms Crossing Borders,” which is inspired by her research on cross-border travels of feminist ideas, actions, and texts.

Feel free to reach out to Dr. Ergun if you would like to learn more about her research or courses.