Strands of complexity thinking has been challenging the reductionist, linear paradigm of Western scholarship since its (rudimentary) origins in the late 1800s. Following chaos theory in the 1980s, current complexity thinking (complexity theory) is growing in influence in the natural sciences as well as in social sciences and the humanities. Examples of the latter two categories are the work of Byrne in social sciences as well as the work of Morin, Wheeler, Queiroz and others in the humanities. One also finds numerous scholars who could be labelled complexity thinkers, but who do not necessarily use the terminology of complexity thinking. In translation studies, Marais made an effort to link translation studies and complexity thinking.
One of the many unfinished tasks of linking complexity thinking to translation studies is to consider the methodological implications of complexity thinking for translation studies.
Firstly, complexity thinking arose from within natural sciences, in particular from within mathematical and computational approaches to systems thinking. The philosophical and methodological implications of “adopting/adapting” quantitative approaches to qualitative research in the humanities are all but clear. It is not clear at all which of the quantitative approaches are adaptable, if any, and if they are to be adapted, how to do so.
Secondly, translation studies scholars need to consider the array of methodological options offered by complexity thinking and decide on the usefulness of these. For this reason, taking stock of existing methodologies from the perspective of complexity thinking seems to be an imperative.
With the above in mind, we invited two specialists in complexity thinking to introduce these topics at a two-day conference in Leuven, Belgium, in 2017, namely Joao Queiroz (University of Juiz de Fora, Brazil) and David Vampola (State University of New York, USA).
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