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2021 Review

It’s the beginning of a new calendar year, and I always like to start January by reviewing and reflecting on the past twelve months. I find I tend to lose sight of what I’ve actually accomplished over the stretch of a year, and that devoting some time to reflection helps to clarify this.

In personal terms, 2021 got off to a subdued start. We were unable to travel to Germany to celebrate Christmas and New Year with our family due to the rapid spread of the Alpha variant here in the UK, and the country remained in lockdown for several months. On the work front, however, things remained busy – all throughout the pandemic, I’ve been incredibly grateful that I’m able to do all of my work from home, with the vast majority of resources I require available online. How lucky!


February saw the conclusion of work on probably the most challenging project I’ve ever been involved with – a translation of selected essays from the German social theorist Niklas Luhmann’s Gesellschaftsstruktur und Semantik. The translation was a collaborative process that (unsurprisingly, given the texts’ level of complexity) took several years! The English-language book is due to be published by Oxford University Press in February 2022.

The spring also saw the final rounds of revision for another book I had worked on the previous year: Stefan Brunnhuber’s Financing Our Future, a fascinating study on how a parallel digital currency system could help us to achieve the UN’s sustainable development goals. I’ve worked closely with the author for several years, editing and translating several papers on this topic, and it has been wonderful to see all of this brought together in one volume.

A particular highlight this year was the work on a beautiful coffee-table book about the world’s leading cultural districts published by Vienna’s MuseumsQuartier. This book, titled World Culture Districts, was published in both a German and an English edition (I was involved in the latter, of course). In a year deprived of travel, it was wonderful to be able to visit these gorgeous places all over the world in my mind by virtue of the book’s descriptive texts and beautiful images!

Much of the rest of the year was taken up by work on a very large translation in the field of philosophy of law, a fascinating field in which I really enjoyed immersing myself. I hope to be able to share more details on the book’s publication in next year’s review! Otherwise, I was kept busy by other, shorter projects, mainly in the fields of music/musicology and international (mostly criminal) law.


New website!

Another venture long in the making was the redesign of my website, which was completed in December 2021. Once again, my sister C.A. Hiley provided the images and Alistair Bell of INC House created the overall design. I was keen to have a top-quality German-language version of the website, and the texts were translated into beautiful German by my colleague Katja Heimann-Kiefer. I’m thrilled with the result!


Sadly, the ongoing pandemic meant that all continuing professional development (CPD) had to take place online, with no opportunity to meet colleagues in person. In May, the Institute of Translation and Interpreting (ITI) held a virtual conference. Rather than attend the sessions “live” and spend all day glued to my computer screen, I chose to catch up with the recorded sessions over the period of a month or so. This was a definite advantage of holding the event online! Possibly my favourite session was Edward Lamont and Emma Paulay’s presentation on “Getting Things Done”, based on David Allen’s techniques for maximising organisation and productivity.

The ITI’s regional and language networks also offered online meetups and training; I found a webinar on inclusive language hosted by the ITI German Network particularly interesting.

My favourite course this year by far was Marianne Cantwell’s “Secret Superpowers”, which I’ve written about in more detail here, so no need to go into any further detail in this post!

Otherwise, I continued to pursue opportunities for learning more about a field of particular (personal and professional) interest to me, namely how international criminal law can be used as a vehicle to prevent damage to the environment and harm to Indigenous Peoples. I have for several years now supported the work of the Stop Ecocide Foundation, which is working towards making ecocide an international crime. I was particularly excited to attend (again online) the unveiling of the definition of ecocide of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide in June 2021. I also attended webinars held by the Canadian RAVEN Trust, which campaigns to provide access to justice for Canada’s Indigenous Nations. November saw the long-awaited COP26 conference; I took the opportunity to attend several panel discussions and events on the theme of ecocide that were streamed online.

What’s in store for 2022?

2021 ended with far greater cheer than it started, as we managed to get to Germany to spend the festive season with family despite the last-minute imposition of travel restrictions. While I’ve been very grateful that it’s been possible for me to work, learn, and network online throughout 2021, I hope very much that 2022 will finally see a return to in-person meetings with colleagues and clients! I’ve already got several interesting projects lined up for the first couple of months – again, in my usual fields of criminal law and music – and am looking forward to getting my teeth into those. I’m not making too many other plans at this stage, though, given that the Covid-19 pandemic still looks to be with us for some time…

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