Justice in Translation

Justice in Translation is a web publication series that publishes  short-to-medium length translation [up to 10,000 words] from Southeast Asian languages to English. The series includes laws, court decisions, essays, short stories, poems, protest declarations, etc. — any piece that a given translator would like to share with a broad, English-reading audience including scholars, practitioners, journalists, and others. 

All pieces published in the Justice in Translation series are posted below, with the most recent first. Click on the underlined titles  to download the PDF of each piece. Follow the JSEALab on Twitter or Facebook to get news when a new translation is published. See the Call for Submissions for details about how to publish in Justice in Translation.

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Justice in Translation 7/2022

“Oaths and Ordeals in Classical Cambodian Law, 1011–1891,” by anonymous, translated by Trent Walker.

Translations of three Cambodian texts on oaths and ordeals—“Oath of the Guards,” “A Solemn Oath,” and “Law for Ordeals”—dating to 1011, 1693, and 1891 CE, respectively, and grounded in three linguistic phases of the Khmer language: Old, Middle, and Modern. These texts reveal the importance of such oaths and ordeals over time and provide a basis for comparison with similar legal traditions in pre-twentieth-century Burma, Laos, and Siam.

Justice in Translation 6/2022

“A Collection of Protest Materials Opposing the Yuam River Water Diversion Project,”  by the People’s Network of the Yuam, Ngao, Moei and Salween River Basin, translated by Mueda Nawanat and introduced by Zali Fung and Vanessa Lamb.

This collection, authored by the People’s Network of the Yuam, Ngao, Moei and Salween River Basin, illustrates the range of engagements and forms of resistance by communities impacted by the proposed Yuam River Water Diversion Project, a Thai state-led project. These materials show why and how communities oppose the water diversion project, and the ways they seek to participate in and shape development.

Justice in Translation 5/2022

“Islam as an Ideology,” written by Mohammad Natsir and translated by Megan Brankley Abbas.

In the 1950s, Mohammad Natsir was one of Indonesia’s most prominent Islamic nationalists. His influential essay, “Islam as an Ideology,” argues that Islam encompasses far more than just personal religious beliefs and acts of ritual worship. It also establishes social, economic, and political principles and thus should, according to Natsir, play an integral role in the nascent Indonesian state. 

Justice in Translation 4/2022

“You or me who pretended to know?” written and translated by Phana P.

This translation of a performance piece, first created in August 2020 during the beginning of the ongoing struggle for democracy in Thailand, reflects the profound creativity questioning of authority that is part of this struggle.

Justice in Translation 3/2022

“Casual Casualty and Eliminated,” written and translated by Khải Đơn.

These two acute poems, written in Vietnamese and translated into English by Khải Đơn, refract the everyday fear and violence present and lingering during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Justice in Translation 2/2022

“Lao Phaen, 11/4/2015,” by Patiwat Saraiyaem, translated by Peera Songkünnatham.

A classic nineteenth-century song, reimagined under lèse majesté. Uncensored for the first time.

Justice in Translation 1/2022

“Instructions and Lessons to Keep,” by Jose F. Lacaba, translated by David Michael M. San Juan.

This is an English translation of an ode to personal and collective survival that would certainly be comforting at the very least, and inspiring, at the very most in these perilous times. A gritty and grounded “Desiderata” (Max Ehrmann, 1927) to help us all heal and carry on.


Justice in Translation 7/2021

Constitutional Court Ruling No. 19/2564: A Selection of Documents, translated by Tyrell Haberkorn.

On 10 November 2021, the Constitutional Court of Thailand ruled that the peaceful protests and calls for reform of the institution of the monarchy by activists in 2020 constituted overthrow of rule by democracy with the king as head of state. In this selection of documents, the petition submitted to the Constitutional Court requesting this ruling, the counter statements submitted by the activists, and the full Constitutional Court ruling are translated. The ruling raises significant questions about the meanings of democracy, law, and sovereignty in the Thai polity.

Justice in Translation 6/2021

“My Will,” by Dr Thiha Tin Tun, translated by Astraia Eugene

This is a  letter written in advance by a fallen hero, a young physician, in the Spring Revolution against the military in Myanmar. Before going out to protest, the writer said goodbye to his family members and beloved ones and urged them to remain alive even though he is not present anymore. 

Justice in Translation 5/2021

Constitutional Court Ruling No. 20/2564, issued by the Constitutional Court of Thailand, translated by Chalermrat Chandranee

On 5 December 2021, the Constitutional Court of Thailand released a ruling  that the provision in the Civil and Commercial Code which stipulates that marriage shall only be between a man and a woman is constitutional. This decision has significant impacts on questions of LGBTQIA+ rights in Thailand and the role of the Constitutional Court in protecting, or derogating, these rights.

Justice in Translation 4/2021

Legend of Sapang-Bato,” by Fanny A. Garcia, translated by John Andrew M. del Prado

This story is about a young woman working in a retirement home as she recounts the story of an old woman who refuses to stay. What she learns is the struggle of poor farmers whose lives were lost after they fought for their lands forcibly taken from them by the government in the Philippines.

Justice in Translation 3/2021

“Little children play with fire,” by NANA, translated by May Chong

With a title derived from a nationalist tune, Nana’s ‘Anak kecil main api’ delivers a searing rebuke to the adults who have failed their children in the face of disaster. May Chong’s translation has endeavoured to preserve the original’s rhythm together with its evocative imagery. This is their first collaboration after becoming friends and colleagues in the Malaysian spoken word scene.

Justice in Translation 2/2021

“Justice in Thought,” by Muhammad Dudi Hari Saputra, translated by Christopher Hulshof

In this article, Indonesian scholar Muhammad Dudi Hari Saputra critically analyzes the pervasiveness of intellectual hierarchies in Indonesian society and disparate quality of higher education outside of the island of Java. By singling out the experience of Papuans, his critique of Indonesia’s academic culture is delicately linked to larger injustices perpetrated upon Papua by the nation’s center of power. Ultimately, the author leaves readers to ponder whether physical injustices can be prevented without first examining the less tangible injustice in our own thoughts.

Justice in Translation 1/2021

“Legal Reform, Where Are You Going?” by Eryanto Nugroho, translated by James Llewellyn

The renowned legal reform activist Eryanto Nugroho argues in his essay “Legal Reform, Where Are You Going?” that attempts to undermine Indonesia’s premier anti-corruption agency has placed the country at a crossroads. Everyday Indonesians need to see the hard-won rule of law reforms that were achieved after the collapse of the New Order authoritarian regime as milestones. By viewing the reforms as milestones, the Indonesian people can determine for themselves where the country is heading and whether it is truly moving in the right direction.