Mental health interpreting – considering some of the challenges

By Yvonne Waddell

Work in mental health settings is often unique from other settings the community interpreter works in. When we consider that language is the principal investigative and therapeutic tool in psychiatry, (Farooq & Fear 104: 2003) the interpreting process will have a direct impact on the way that therapeutic tool is applied. As interpreters working between languages and cultures, the approach we take to interpreting utterances in this area should be considered, especially when a change in a patient’s language may have implications for their mental health state (Pedersen 2012).

As my colleague Jonathan described in his recent post, during the mental health session the interpreter will have access to the form of the language and specific linguistic information that the clinician does not since they do not understand the language of the patient. This information may be lost in translation where specific patterns of speech (such as clanging) are of a different form in the interpretation. If these types of examples are not discussed between clinician and interpreter, the subtle language-based cues indicative of illness may be missed. In addition to these linguistic and paralinguistic considerations, the area of mental health contains many challenges for the community interpreter.

The idea of considering the thought world of the other participants in the interpreted interaction is not a new one, the term first being introduced by Namy in 1977. The participant’s thought world as part of ethical decision making has been developed more extensively by Dean and Pollard (2013) in their textbook for interpreters as practice professionals.  For those of us interpreting in the community for minority languages, I would suggest that we most often consider things from our minority language users’ point of view, so it can be useful to take some time considering the thought world of our majority language user/hearing participant. Working with interpreters is rarely a daily occurrence for mental health professionals. Bear in mind that this type of interaction is probably new to the professional, and the vast majority of medical professionals are only trained in the typical medical interview, where there is one other person in the room (the patient) and they share a language and culture (Rosenberg et al 2007).

Those of us in interpreting studies are aware of the advances the profession has gone through in terms of the role, degree of involvement and appropriate strategies of the interpreter. However, professionals express a preference for a conduit model of interpreter and consider a word-for-word literal translation as the most accurate (Dysart-Gale 2005, Rosenberg et al 2007, Hsieh 2010). While this fixed translation approach may be problematic for ensuring accuracy of meaning, this preference may reflect the importance of how something is said both by professionals and patients in mental health settings. The mental health professional will use deliberate and considered phrasing in their approach, and they are keen for that to be preserved in the interpretation.

However, mental health professionals who are unfamiliar with the grammar of a minority language may not realise that literal interpretations of terms are not always possible and perhaps two words in English may require several sentences in the minority language to accurately relay the meaning. If we consider an example of BSL (British Sign Language) as one of those minority languages, professionals who do not realise that BSL is a full and distinct language from English and assume that BSL is simply ‘English on the hands’, may expect the interpreter to stop signing once they have stopped speaking.  As the interpreter continues to sign, although they are accurately relaying the meaning of the original utterance, if the professional doesn’t have access to what they are saying in this expanded interpretation, they may begin to feel left out of the conversation, or suspicious of what is being signed after they have stopped speaking.

In anticipation of these moments of tension that can arise, one strategy might be for the interpreter to keep the professional in the loop as to when a term may need expansion in the second language. The ideal time to have these types of discussions would be in the brief meeting the interpreter has with the professional before the appointment, or afterwards at the debriefing.  While best practice in mental health interpreting research may describe the benefits and necessity of these briefing sessions (Chovaz 2013, Tribe & Lane 2009, De Bruin & Brugmans 2006, Messent 2003,) I also work in health boards across Scotland as a community interpreter, and am aware of how rare those briefing sessions can be when you are a freelance interpreter booked for a one-off job, and dilemmas occur often.

When we are faced with a dilemma in mental health settings, being aware of the mental health professionals’ communication objectives is also important in helping us come to a decision.

Let’s take another example:

Imagine you are interpreting at a counselling session. In response to one of the counselor’s questions, the client’s answer lasts for 20 minutes. The counselor actively listens to this narrative but does not interrupt. The client is signing (or speaking) very quickly and displaying strong emotions, and you are struggling to pick up some of the names and other details that are being described. You feel like you should interrupt and clarify because you might have got something wrong, and you are missing details, but you also don’t want to stop them as they are in full flow, it’s the first time they’ve really opened up about this and the counselor does not seem to be making any moves to interrupt them. This is an example of where interpreting values (such as accuracy) come into conflict with the values of the setting (the counselors’ priority of the client’s narrative). This is where dilemmas arise for interpreters. Since both values are valid, deciding which value to forfeit is a process suited to careful consideration of all contextual factors relevant to the situation. I’ve found Dean & Pollard’s Demand – Control Schema an effective taxonomy to frame this consideration of the interpreted interaction.  If we know in advance that the counselor’s goal for this session is to allow the client the space to communicate their story uninterrupted and feel listened to, then we may decide to prioritise the value of the setting over repeatedly interrupting the patient to clarify terms in order to preserve accuracy. This can leave us with an uneasy feeling of, ‘I didn’t interpret properly, I should have interrupted to clarify that name.’ That uncomfortable feeling is due to the forfeiting of interpreting values, which is never an easy decision, but that feeling isn’t something we need to carry around with us, affecting our confidence and making us uncertain over whether we ‘did the right thing’. The feeling can be understood and explored in the context of a supervision session, or in debriefing with the counselor who may assure you that they were more keen on having the person express themselves that having them interrupted for less important details (for more on value conflict for interpreters see Dean & Pollard 2013 and Dean & Pollard 2015).

While interpreting in mental health settings may always be challenging, by continuing to be reflective practitioners, engaging in CPD, conducting further research in this area, and sharing good practice, perhaps we can move towards a more effective interpreting experience for all involved.

Yvonne E Waddell is a registered BSL/English Interpreter, working in community and conference settings. If you’re a regular attendee at the EdSign Lecture series you’ve probably heard her work into English, or seen her interpreting into BSL. She is currently a doctoral candidate in LINCS exploring strategies employed by mental health nurses when working with Deaf patients and sign language interpreters.

References

Chovaz, C. J. (2013). Intersectionality: Mental Health Interpreters and Clinicians or Finding the “sweet spot” in therapy. International Journal on Mental Health and Deafness3(1).

Dean, R. K., & Pollard, R. Q. (2013). The demand control schema: Interpreting as a practice profession. CreateSpace.

Dean, R. K., & Pollard, R. Q. (2015 in press). Re-discovering Normative Ethics in the Practice Profession of Interpreting. In L. Roberson & S. Shaw (Eds.), Signed Language Interpreting in 21st Century: Foundations and Practice. Gallaudet University Press.

De Bruin, E. & Brugmans, P. (2006) The Psychotherapist and the Sign Langauge Interpreter. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education.  11:3 Summer 2006

Dysart-Gale, D. (2005). Communication models, professionalization, and the work of medical interpreters. Health Communication, 17, 91-103.

Farooq, S., & Fear, C. (2003). Working through interpreters. Advances in Psychiatric Treatment9(2), 104-109.

Hsieh, E. et al (2010) Dimensions of trust: the tensions and challenges in provider-interpreter trust. Qualitative Health Research. 20 (2) 170-181

Messent, P. (2003) From postmen to makers of meaning: a model for collaborative work between clinicians and interpreters. In R. Tribe & H. Raval (Eds.), Working with interpreters in mental health. London & New York: Routledge

Namy, C. (1977) ‘Reflections on the training of simultaneous interpreters: A metalinguistic approach.’ In Gerver, D., & Sinaiko, H. W. Eds. Language interpretation and communication (Vol. 6). New York. Plenum Publishing Corporation. p25-33

Pedersen, D. D. (2013). Psych Notes: Clinical Pocket Guide. FA Davis.

Rosenberg, E., Leanza, Y., & Seller, R. (2007). Doctor-patient communication in primary care with an interpreter: Physi- cian perceptions of professional and family interpreters. Patient Education and Counseling, 67, 286-292.

Sutton-Spence, R., & Woll, B. (1998). The linguistics of British Sign Language: an introduction. Cambridge University Press.

Tribe, R., & Lane, P. (2009). Working with interpreters across language and culture in mental health. Journal of Mental Health, 18(3), 233–241.

As If We Weren’t There

by Jonathan Downie

Neutrality has often been touted as one of the cornerstones of interpreting ethics. The general view seemed to be that interpreters should be so good that the multilingual event would run as if everyone spoke the same language. In other words, it should be as if we weren’t even there.

Now, I have already publicly said that I have serious doubts about using “as if we weren’t there” as a basis for our practice but let’s pretend that it works absolutely fine and let’s simply ask the question: “what does it mean to make the event run as if we weren’t there?”

For many interpreters, the answer will be that, whenever we are faced with ethical issues, we should either do nothing or stay inside our roles as interpreters. If we are asked to hold a baby while a woman has a gynaecological exam, we should say ‘no’ and explain why. If we are asked our opinion by a lawyer, we should decline. If we notice someone being taken advantage of, we should do nothing at all.

The odd thing is that, the more we think about those kinds of dilemmas, the more we realise that doing nothing and standing back is the exact opposite of making it ‘as if we weren’t there.’ For instance, the fact that a witness does not speak the same language as the rest of the court, automatically puts everyone involved in a weaker position than they would be if they all spoke the same language. The jury will find it harder to pick up linguistic cues, the lawyers will find it harder to wrestle the nuances out of responses, the judge will find it harder to assure that the witness is not being badgered and so on. For that reason, if we don’t ask for side benches when necessary, a bilingual court becomes less fair than a monolingual one since not all the necessary information is available to everyone who needs it.

How about mental health interpreting? My colleague, Dr Robyn Dean once shared an ethical scenario presented to sign language interpreters which goes a bit like this.

You are interpreting for a Deaf person who is receiving care from a psychologist. After the meeting, the Deaf person leaves the room and the psychologist turns to you and says, “so what do you think?” What should you do?

The ‘right answer’ given in one handbook was that the interpreters should refuse to comment, since it is not their place or training to pass judgment. Yet, if it is our job to restore things to the way they would be if we weren’t there then refusing to pass on the kind of information that the psychologist would pick up if their patient did not need an interpreter puts both parties at a disadvantage.

Obviously, it is not the place of the interpreter to make clinical judgements on the person’s mental state. There could be a case to be made, however, for the interpreter to pass on the kinds of signals that a trained psychologist could read in a patient who spoke their language. So, it may be useful and relevant to say, ‘his signing space was small’ or ‘he tended to reverse the normal grammatical sentence order’ or, ‘when you asked him about his childhood, his signing became sharper and more intense.’

In this case, the interpreter is not doing the psychologist’s job for them but simply passing on the kind of information they need to do their job effectively. If they don’t, we could easily argue that someone seeing a psychologist with the help of an interpreter would be at a disadvantage compared to someone who didn’t need one.

If these cases seem controversial, it’s only because we are not used to actually thinking about the outcomes of our decisions. We are more used to defending our space as interpreters by telling people what we don’t do than thinking about our responsibility as interpreters and what we should do. We are not used to realising that there are consequences for every decision, especially deciding to do nothing.

In short, if it is our job to make it ‘as if we weren’t there’ then we have to realise that our work would necessarily include addressing the imbalances of power, differences in knowledge, and variations in cultural norms that arise when two people do not share the same language. Doing nothing or declining to act actually makes these differences more pronounced, which would seem to go against what we think we are doing when we try to make it ‘as if we weren’t there.’

I remain to be convinced that trying to do that is a sound basis for ethics. But I am definitely not of the opinion that declining to act is any better. There must be some better basis upon which interpreters can make decisions responsibly, what might that be? Let’s hear your views.

Passing as deaf or hearing: choosing cross-cultural identities

by Noel O’Connell

On 15th June 2015, media reports raised questions about Rachel Dolezal’s background. A scholar of race and African-American culture and daughter of white parents, Dolezal had identified as Black. Stories of black people “passing” as white or white people as black have been a fascination for researchers and historians for many years. Racial passing is generally understood to mean identifying oneself as member of another race (historically the white race). In its simplicity, the practice of passing – presenting oneself as someone one is not – may be so intuitive or natural that people may not bother to ask: “What do you mean you’re black?” I would argue there is much to discover behind this simple question. We need ask why some people desire to transform their identity even while it is clear their persona contradicts the image of their original identity. I believe the issue around ‘passing’ mirror the experiences of deaf and hearing people. Ironically though this topic has rarely been given attention in Deaf Studies research. We actually know very little about what constitutes ‘passing’ or about how deaf and hearing people may want to claim an alternative identity.

In schools where policy prohibited sign language communication, deaf children were trained to ‘pass’ as hearing children in order to achieve a desired outcome. To pass as ‘hearing’ means to behave and act ‘normally’. The practice involves imitation – copying and displaying hearing people’s cultural traits, norms, and values. In postcolonial terms, we know that mimicry is the act of imitating the language, behaviour and attitude of the coloniser. Under oralism (an educational ideology that outlaws sign languages) mimicry is applied when deaf people copy hearing people’s attitude and patterns of behaviour. In passing-as-hearing or impersonation, the deaf person portrays an image of ‘hearingness’. By speaking, talking and listening to music, wearing hearing aids and cochlear implants, they reflect and highlight socially defined hearingness. Deaf people attending mainstream schools may be inclined to present a persona of hearingness given how are often exposed to hearing culture with little opportunity to learn British Sign Language (BSL).

Similar to what happened under colonialism, we assume people born into one particular category might end up being socialised into another category. Caitlyn Jenner (aka Bruce Jenner), former Olympic champion, for example, took on different gender or sex roles. When it was reported that Rachel Dolezal had been presenting a persona of a Black American, it drew comparison with Jenner. While the link between the two shows that race and gender have much in common, we find identifiable parallels exist with the experience of deaf people. But what does this say about hearing people? Do they claim to be culturally Deaf? I doubt there is any evidence that this is true. We might ask why anyone would want to claim an identity that, in the eyes of society, holds a less than ‘privileged’ status.

In terms of how a Deaf Studies researcher might approach the subject of passing, we might ask: how do people negotiate their identities around the deaf/hearing line? Do we assume we can change our deaf/hearing identities and become ‘hearing’ or ‘deaf’ while still displaying markers of our original culture? Are there obvious cultural markers that can be discarded? More research is required to find answers to these questions. In particular I’d argue that the notion of ‘passing’ should be analysed in Deaf Studies research where we can discuss how one constructs, claims, justifies or resists ideas around alternative identities.

Les publics multilingues

by Katerina Strani

This post was originally published in the CREM research blog Publics en Question. For a similar (but not identical) English version, please visit this page.

Welcome_multilingual_Guernsey_tourism-672x372

Il a longtemps été prouvé que notre langage a un impact sur la façon dont nous pensons et, finalement, la façon dont nous soutenons nos arguments (Whorf, 1956). Notre langage façonne notre pensée et notre vision du monde. C’est par la langue que nous devenons des êtres politiques. Le philosophe Ludwig Wittgenstein a dit que les « limites de ma langue sont les limites de mon monde ». Dai Vaughan a adapté cette citation célèbre en déclarant que« les limites de ma langue sont les limites de ton monde ».

Qu’est-ce que cela signifie quand nous parlons des langues différentes dans les sphères publiques?

L’argumentation constitue la pierre angulaire de la sphère publique, mais, malgré l’importance du multilinguisme sur la construction sociale des sphères publiques contemporaines, ceci reste relativement sous-exploré. Les sphères publiques ne sont pas statiques, mais dynamiques et en pleine évolution. La citoyenneté post-nationale (comme la citoyenneté de l’UE), les sphères publiques sous-nationales (assemblées, collectivités locales, etc.), les langues minoritaires dans l’administration publique, les publics diasporiques en raison de l’augmentation des migrations ont abouti à la communication publique multilingue augmentée. Si on ajoute à cela les nouveaux médias et des « tiers-espaces » de communication (Bhabha, 1994), on voit que la communication multilingue a modifié la composition de la sphère publique non seulement en termes de structure mais aussi en termes de nature communicative. Les interprètes sont de plus en plus utilisés pour parvenir à la compréhension et favoriser le débat dans un environnement multilingue (voir les sphères publiques de l’UE). La reconnaissance des différences culturelles et la thématisation de l’«altérité» font désormais partie du débat multilingue (Doerr, 2012). Les logiciels de traduction deviennent également populaires dans les forums multilingues en ligne, bien que parfois avec des résultats mitigés.

Cependant, malgré la réalité multilingue évidente, il reste quand même une idéologie monolingualiste (Doerr, 2012 ; Pym, 2013) et une hypothèse erronée de l’homogénéité linguistique des sphères publiques. Et cela est encore plus alarmant quand on sait que le multilinguisme dans la sphère publique n’est pas quelque chose de nouveau. Rappelons-nous de l’Empire des Habsbourg, de l’Empire Ottoman, ou bien de la France du 19e siècle ; et aujourd’hui, des pays comme la Belgique, la Suisse, le Canada, l’Afrique du Sud ou l’Inde sont officiellement bilingues or multilingues.

Le multilinguisme continue à constituer une partie intégrante de la sphère publique contemporaine, dans laquelle l’argumentation politique peut défier les barrières linguistiques. Comme Thomas Risse et Marianne Van de Steeg (2003) l’ont fait valoir, il n’est « pas besoin de parler la même langue pour communiquer d’une manière significative » ; comme Nicole Doerr (2012) l’a démontré dans ses recherches sur le Forum social européen, malgré le pluralisme linguistique et les compétences linguistiques asymétriques des participants, les débats multilingues sont plus inclusifs que les monolingues. D’un bout à l’autre, la communication devient peu à peu détachée du fonds linguistique.

Bien sûr, cela a des implications pratiques ainsi que normatives. La compréhension semble de plus en plus inaccessible. Une autre langue ajoute un niveau supplémentaire à la contingence (et au risque de mécompréhension ). En outre, les différences de pouvoir dans les sphères publiques multilingues peuvent non seulement être enracinées dans le statut, l’éducation ou l’accès, mais aussi dans la langue choisie pour la communication ou enfin dans la façon dont la langue dominante est parlée (Doerr, 2012 ; Fraser 2007). Le manque d’une langue commune dans l’UE, par exemple, n’empêche pas l’hégémonie linguistique; et toute lingua franca ne sera probablement parlée que par les élites où les éduqués (Fraser, 2007).

Mais il faut considérer ceci : quand nous parlons une langue différente, nous devenons essentiellement des personnes différentes. Quand nous pensons dans une langue différente, nous pensons d’une manière différente. Les langues représentent les cultures, les systèmes de croyance, les mondes vécus. Si nous passons à une autre langue, nous passons à une vision du monde différente. Forcer les gens à parler la même langue, en particulier dans le débat politique, revient à les forcer à penser différemment et à avoir des arguments différents. Certaines personnes considèrent cette obligation comme une forme d’oppression.

Pourquoi dire que l’anglais en Grande-Bretagne, le français en France, etc., est la seule langue admise de débat critique rationnel ? Il est arrogant de penser qu’une langue dominante est la langue de la raison et la seule pourvoyeuse de la vérité. Voilà pourquoi nous devons adopter le multilinguisme, nous devons le favoriser et l’encourager, surtout en politique, où il est le plus vital. Il encourage le pluralisme dans la pensée et l’expression, ce qui est au cœur de la démocratie.

Références

Bhabha H., 1994, The Location of Culture, London, New York, Routledge.Doerr N., 2012, « Translating democracy : how activists in the European Social Forum practice multilingual deliberation », European Political Science Review, 4 (3), pp. 361-384.

Fraser N., 2007, « Transnationalizing the Public Sphere : On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Post-Westphalian World », European Institute for Progressive Cultural Policies, doi : 10.1177/0263276407080090.

Pym A., 2013, « Translation as an instrument for multilingual democracy », Critical Multilingualism Studies, 1(2), pp. 78-95.

Risse T., Van de Steeg M., 2003, « An emerging European public sphere ? Empirical evidence and theoretical clarifications » : Conference on the Europeanisation of Public Spheres, Political Mobilisation, Public Communication and the European Union, Science Center Berlin, 20-21 juin.

Whorf B.L., 1956, « The Relation of Habitual Thought and Behavior to Language », pp. 134-59, in : Carroll, J. B. et al. (dir.), Language, Thought and Reality: Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf, Cambridge, MIT Press.

Special Issue of New Voices in Translation Studies – with Guest Editors from LINCS

by Pedro Castillo, Penny Karanasiou, Marwa Shamy and Lee Williamson

We are delighted to announce the publication of the Special Issue (number 12) of New Voices in Translation Studies.

The issue includes a selection of the best papers submitted after IPCITI 2013, organised in Heriot-Watt, and it is the result of the long standing collaboration between IPCITI and New Voices in Translation Studies.

This Special Issue of New Voices in Translation Studies results from the 9th International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting (IPCITI), which was held at Heriot-Watt University in 2013. We, as Guest Editors of this special issue, are proud to have been involved in the editing and publication process of this journal. The 18 months between the release of the Call for Papers and the final publication have been among the most enriching experiences in our early academic careers. The papers that feature in this special issue reflect the aims of the IPCITI 2013 conference. These were twofold: on the one hand, the conference sought to promote greater participation in Translation and Interpreting (T&I) research by addressing salient issues in the field; and on the other, to foster a supportive environment in which young researchers could exchange ideas on current themes and issues in Translation and Interpreting Studies.

IPCITI 2013 was a great success, with 40 paper and poster presentations from 32 universities across 11 countries. The overall attendance included 82 delegates from universities across Europe (58), Asia (8), Africa (1), and the Americas (4). The range of papers and posters covered such diverse areas of T&I as Translation Theory, Pedagogy, Literary Translation, Interpreting (spoken and sign language) and Audiovisual Translation (AVT). The papers accepted underwent a rigorous peer-review process, and we believe that the authors present fresh perspectives on T&I, displaying both originality and methodological rigour.

We hope the readers of this special issue will appreciate the valuable contribution that these four papers make to pushing the boundaries of knowledge in Translation and Interpreting Studies, but also the opportunities that journals such as New Voices in Translation Studies offer to new researchers in allowing them to disseminate the results of their research more widely.

Happy reading!

Pedro Castillo, Penny Karanasiou, Marwa Shamy and Lee Williamson
The IPCITI Special Issue Guest Editors

Critical Links – A new generation (Call for papers!)

CALL FOR PAPERS

Critical Link 8

Critical LinkS – a new generation
Future-proofing interpreting and translating

29 June – 1 July 2016

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

Pre-conference workshops and events will also take place before the conference (27-28 June) and the Edinburgh Interpreting Research Summer School (EIRSS) is scheduled to take place 4-8 July 2016.

The Critical Link 8 conference organising committee looks forward to receiving abstracts and proposals from those interested in community/public service interpreting and translating, from all possible perspectives. This Call includes submissions for papers, posters, panels, round tables, and workshops. Innovative ideas for sessions in other formats will be welcomed. Proposals may also be submitted for pre-conference workshops and demonstrations.

The conference will bring together all community/public service interpreting and translation stakeholders: community and public sector representatives, employers, developers of tools and technologies, policy makers, practitioners, professional bodies, researchers, service users, trainers and educators, TICS (translation, interpreting & communication support) service providers, and other interested parties to build on progress made to date in order to move forward.

The overarching theme of the conference is Critical LinkS – a new generation. The aim is to explore future-proofing community/public service Interpreting and translating: to investigate working together across professional, geographic, user-group and language communities, through technology, and coping with current and emerging constraints (e.g. economic, environmental, geographic, legal, linguistic, social…). The conference will be particularly interested in “the interpreter/translator of tomorrow”; TICS stakeholders exploring solutions together; the economic impact of interpreting and translation and of investment in interpreting and translation; and in new and emerging issues and innovations.

Abstracts of papers relating to the following key strands of research and practice will be prioritised for inclusion in the programme, as will empirically-based research and examples of interdisciplinary working.

1. Policy – in the widest sense, not solely at the legislative or public sector levels, and from the perspective of all stakeholders. This may include frameworks or procedures both within professions or communities of practice or user groups and between these groups. It may include reflection on ethical issues, quality control, working conditions, or service provision and procurement.

2. Practice – exploring the landscape of the community/public service interpreting and translation world, the evolving nature of the needs and solutions, and possible environmental changes e.g. use of technology. This may include focus on the links between the various players, but also between the activities and roles within the process. Focus on specific fields (e.g. forensic, legal defence, domestic violence, medical, social, training or education, welfare, etc.) or user groups (e.g. children, people with mental illness, victims of human trafficking, etc.) will be of interest. Call for Papers

3. Pedagogy – exploring education and training provision, practice and resources and focusing, in particular, on working with service users and other professional communities in training/education and resource-building, on planning for the future and changing needs, and on innovative practices and methods of delivery.

4. Price – exploring quality, challenges, and costs and benefits in the widest sense (i.e. human and social, as well as monetary) and taking old arguments forward into the future e.g. managing constraints whilst managing/increasing quality. Consequences and “costs” of failures, benefits of investment.

5. Plus – other topics which are particularly current or innovative e.g. hybrid practices and communication modes, etc.

Abstracts should be approximately 300 words long and written in English. During Critical Link 8, it will normally be possible to present in English, British Sign Language and International Sign (please contact the organisers for more details). Abstracts should be headed with the following information: format, the language of presentation, and the main strand(s) your topic aligns with (1-5). Papers will be 20 minutes long. Panels, round tables and workshops may last 60 minutes or 90 minutes (please specify). There will be a dedicated area and times for the presentation and discussion of posters. Proposals for pre-conference workshops and demonstrations from researchers, practitioners, technology developers, or others should be labelled accordingly. Any such proposals may be discussed in advance by contacting CriticalLink8@hw.ac.uk

Key dates

Submission of abstracts for papers, posters and other proposals opens: 1 July 2015

Deadline for submission of abstracts and proposals to Critical Link 8 30 September 2015

Notification of acceptance 1 December 2016

Deadline for presenters to confirm participation by registering 12 February 2016

Draft programme available 11 March 2016

Registration will normally open autumn 2015

For more information, please go to the following websites:

CTISS – Heriot-Watt University http://ctiss.hw.ac.uk/

Critical Link International http://www.criticallink.org/

or contact CriticalLink8@hw.ac.uk

To submit your abstract, please go to https://www.eventspro.net/mm/getdemo.ei?id=1070307&s=_B19BO7CC9 

Roots and Routes of Germans in Contemporary Britain

by Ullrich Kockel

In socio-cultural research, there has been a long-running argument pitching “roots” against “routes” as the source of identity. At a time when identities appear to become ever more detached from territorial connections, it makes sense to define cultural belonging in terms of the intensity of communication within one’s social field, even though individual biographies highlight a problem of context. According to this theory, I would have been an Irishman during the decade 1978-88 when my social field was made up primarily of Irish migrants in Hamburg, Bremen and Leeds before I went to live in Galway and Kerry for three years, where I would have been German. In Liverpool during 1988-1992, I would have been mostly English, then Irish again during 1992-99, German during my time in Bristol 2000-05, and during my seven years in Ulster I could have been Irish or British, depending on the situation. It might be tempting to see this as confirming the popular theory of a postmodern identity warehouse – but I am not convinced.

Outside of Germany, German minorities in Europe have been rather neglected in cultural research. In 2002, Stefan Wolff (himself a German in Britain) presented a survey concentrating on groups that previously would have been described as ‘ethnic Germans’, living in areas designated as ‘German linguistic territory’ and its Sprachinseln (linguistic islands), located mainly in eastern Europe. Panikos Panayi in 1996 offered a first overview of Germans in Britain. Across the British Isles there is a scattering of mostly small local concentrations of migrants with a German background. Some of these local concentrations can look back on a long history as a ‘German community’ or ‘German congregation’, even if, in most cases, that history remains yet to be written. From the early 1970s onwards, following the accession of both the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland to the European Communities, there was an influx of ‘drop-outs’ and part-time migrants of various description, many of whom settled on the ‘Celtic Fringe’ of these islands, in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

My research on German emigration to the British Isles emerged originally as a by-product of my doctoral dissertation on regional development and everyday culture in the west of Ireland, and in the lecture I will make some reference to this earlier work. Over some three decades – as I turned from student and temporary migrant to being a long-term career migrant – I began to explore this topic in greater depth, which included an element of self-reflexivity.

In the relationships between migrants and host society it is evident that cultural connections with the homeland continue to exist even where migrants may have consciously turned their backs on that country, while cultural connections with their new country of residence have their limits even where considerable efforts are invested to achieve integration. European integration and the globalisation of trade have altered the everyday lived experience of today’s migrants significantly in comparison with previous generations. Conscious ‘rooting’ in the new context nevertheless remains rather difficult. For all the assumed cultural proximity within Europe, it can be shown that within the German cultural experience in the British Isles, spaces and places of concrete everyday belonging are created where elements of ‘German’ culture can find expression.

A handful of themes may be identified that extend across different generations of migrants. These include in particular issues of language and communication in the widest sense, as a process formed by values and patterns of behaviours that have their roots in the childhood of the individual. This applies not only with regard to feast days and holy days in the annual as well as the individual life cycle, but equally in everyday life: from table manners to ways of greeting, leisure habits or ideas and rituals of cleanliness. Habitual attitudes and patterns of behaviour become problematic when they lose their casualness in the encounter with another, foreign life-world.

Since the 1990s, satellite television and the expansion of international traffic infrastructure have made it much easier for emigrants to stay in contact with their country of origin. The food situation has improved, thanks to the internationalisation of trade – although the conversation between two Germans meeting for the first time in these islands often still takes only a few minutes before it turns to the inexhaustible topic of ‘decent bread’.

It has become much less complicated than only a few years ago to identify oneself culturally as German. Moreover, it has become easier to feel ‘Irish’, ‘English’, ‘Scottish’, ‘Welsh’ or ‘British’, or to alternate freely between a globalised version of any of these and an equally globalised German identity. But the postmodern identity-sunshine, forecast to bring about the dissolution of identities in some multicultural ‘melting pot’, has not materialised.

When German migrants talk about their identity, they often use the term Heimat. Many migrants have lived in these islands for a long time, often longer than they ever lived in Germany, and now have children or grand children here. Remarkably, the meaning of the term Heimat for 25-year old migrants differs little from its meaning for 75-year olds. Even in a globalised world, people that come from another country remain ‘others’. This includes German migrants in these islands, even if they have been living here for a long time and have become relatively well integrated.

In contrast to immigrants in the nineteenth century, and also to the mainly Jewish refugees in the 1930s and early 1940s, today’s German migrants are not creating any ‘little Germanies’ in the sense of entire streetscapes, or urban or rural districts, with a distinctly German character. It has become much easier over the past two decades to be German – or whatever else – in Britain, Ireland or anywhere else in the western world. The everyday experience of German migrants in these islands is full of what social scientists call ‘third spaces’. Only, these are no longer streetscapes with an unmistakably German imprint, but rather scattered places where people come together. These migrants’ roots in Germany are both more and less pronounced than they appear to have been for previous generations. To unravel this apparent contradiction by comparative research looking at other migrant groups would be a rewarding task for further field research. Current projects at the IRC researching Baltic and Polish migration are a start; but that is a topic for another occasion.

GERMANS IN BRITAIN is a touring exhibition created by the Migration Museum Project. It is brought to Scotland on the initiative of Heriot-Watt’s Intercultural Research Centre with the generous support of the German Consulate-General Edinburgh, the National Records of Scotland and the University of Aberdeen.

The use of technology as a cost-cutting exercise

by Rita McDade

(English version)

You know how technology changes over time, and the Sign Language Community has seen changes through the use of faxes, text messaging and online video telephony? These are all changes that have had an impact on the Signing community, and it seems that, more recently, there is a growth in the use of on-line interpreting services.

Technology can be a positive thing, but I have some concerns about it. On-line interpreting and video-telephony can be really effective if used properly, but it concerns me that there has been a push towards using it more widely and I’ve observed how this has become more prevalent especially in the context of a time when governments are cutting back on expenditure to save money. The reductions in spending are affecting the business world as well, many companies are laying off staff and other businesses have closed down completely.

It struck me, in the context of using technology and saving money, that there are some people undertaking a lot of air travel, internationally, in Europe, America, Australia, Africa and I wonder why, especially when people can use video-conferencing and on-line technology, I wonder why these aren’t being used more often? It seems that there are professionals travelling back and forth, and yes, there are some journeys that are necessary, but there are other situations where the use of video-conferencing would be appropriate, so why isn’t the technology being used in the same way? It would be value for money and it would save people from having jet lag and prevent them from catching colds or being unwell after a long flight! There’s less need for as much air travel if video-conferencing or on line facilities are used, it makes sense.

What I’m wondering is, why when there’s a push to use these technologies for the Signing Community, when the justification for using on-line communication is that it is cheaper, saving money and how interpreters are expensive and so on and so on, why are the same lines of reasoning not being applied to travelling to international events and the use of air travel for business purposes? Yes, there are times when it is necessary to travel abroad, but there are many occasions when video-conferencing would be more appropriate. If new technology is good enough for the Signing Community, then it should be good enough for the people undertaking all the air travel, the same arguments can be applied to both, yet this seems to be inconsistent.

On Deafhood Space

by Steve Emery

 

[English version]

Last week, I went to Paddy Ladd’s lecture. He was talking about “Deafhood – A Pedagogy”, which was about theories of teaching Deaf children.

It was really interesting, but there was one part of his lecture that really got me thinking,  when he was talking about  “Wounded Space”, which means “damaged space”…Well, what does he actually mean by that? This concept relates to the experiences of Deaf children through their development into adults and how the effects of oppression through oralism. The overwhelming and stifling experience of this has damaged Deaf children emotionally as individuals and subsequently as a community of adults. There’s a need to rebuild the community, to begin again.

During his lecture, Paddy Ladd explained what he meant by “Deafhood – A Pedagogy” and as he was doing this, it gave me a lot of ideas , and I was thinking about the process of change, how do we move forward and go through a transition from a Wounded Space to Deafhood?  To a place where we can become healthy, where we can improve, develop and build? I began to consider what we would need to do to be able to achieve this aim.

Paddy Ladd’s lecture focussed upon how the use of appropriate teaching methods is the way to achieve Deafhood. In my view, that is one part of it, to be able to advance and move forward, however, there are a number of other factors that need to be taken into account for us to attain this.

It’s very important for Deaf people to be a part of a collective group, this is essential. Yes we are all individuals, we have our own lives, but we need to be connected to each other as a collective, this is really important for us all,  it’s been recognised that we need to be a part of society.

The next thing that came to me, concerning the need to rebuild and develop a Deafhood Space, is that we need to have an input and participation from the wider community, not just from academics. Yes, academics are important individuals who have a place, but ordinary members of the community should not be excluded as the wider community of Deaf people need to participate and be involved in this process of development.

The third point I’d like to make is, that hearing people must be thinking, “Where do I fit in, into this Deafhood Space?”  This is really important , to be able to build a new space, Deaf and hearing people have to work together, as allies, to be involved in making and developing this new space.

My fourth and last point is about spirituality. Paddy Ladd talked about this in his lecture. Spirituality can mean many things, it can relate to religious beliefs for example. He gave his perspective that we Deaf people are of the Earth and that we are here for a reason. Our understanding and development of what that spiritual aspect of being Deaf means is a part of the development of Deafhood Space.

His lecture gave me a lot to ponder over especially this concept of Deafhood Space. Its very important for us to reflect and recognise the idea of Damaged Space, in ourselves and in others and how we can change this and make a transition by moving to and developing a positive space.  These are a few of the suggestions that I think are important for us to take into account when we are discussing moving towards Deafhood.