chapter  16
“The Biggest Round Table”
The interpreters’ visibility at the Potsdam Conference
ByIcíar Alonso-Araguás
Pages 9

This chapter discusses the presence of diplomatic interpreters in a photograph dated 1945, a highly sensitive period in contemporary history and in the history of interpreting. Based on several sources, such as photographic records, memoirs, institutional archives and the contemporary press, the author explores the material dimension of what has been traditionally called the interpreter's invisibility in historical events. The photograph provides a general view of the conference table. The conference room contained the biggest round table he had until then seen. Looking at the photograph both as a documentary image and as a heterotopia, then, his intention is to slowly zoom in to different levels of intensity and explore the relationship between the representation of interpreters and the social practice that it reveals. Interpreters' memoirs offer an alternative way to go beyond institutional records and cross-reference them with other kinds of narratives about the inner perceptions of the interpreter.