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.

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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.

Viral Signs

by Graham Turner

We’ve had the ‘fake interpreter’ at Nelson Mandela’s funeral in Johannesburg. We’ve had successive mayors of New York (Bloomberg and de Blasio) and the Premier of Queensland supposedly being upstaged by their interpreters while making announcements about a hurricane, an epidemic and a cyclone. You might be forgiven for wondering if a sign language interpreter will ever hit the headlines for the right reasons.

Well, the Spring of 2015 has seen not one, but two interpreters go at least a little bit viral – and both for undertaking the same kind of assignment. No death or crisis this time. This time they were, erm, well, could we call it ‘singing’?

In Sweden, an interpreter delivered an exuberant performance as part of the country’s Eurovision Song Contest selection process. And in the United States, it was a particularly dramatic version of a number by the rapper Eminem – not broadcast on television, just uploaded as a personal project to YouTube – that caught the attention of millions online.

Thank goodness, I hear you say! Some harmless, artistic fun from a little light-hearted signing. But not so fast…

Something about the interpretations of these songs has fired up the twitterati all over again. So what’s the fuss about?

One of the primary objections seems to be that interpreters shouldn’t be ‘glory-seekers’. In the US, the Registry of Interpreting for the Deaf writes in its Standard Practice Paper on Interpreting for the Performing Arts that performance interpreting “is not a vehicle for interpreters to become performers but rather a vehicle for the target audience members to enjoy the performance event.” But if the function of the event is performative, isn’t the interpreter expect to, erm, perform? Entertain? Convey the intent of the source message?

In any case, in one of these two instances, the interpretation was created as a personal exercise – is that an illegitimate thing to do? The interpreter didn’t make it go viral. Blogs like this one (http://www.slate.com/blogs/lexicon_valley/2015/06/10/sign_language_let_s_talk_or_sign_about_the_deaf_not_hearing_interpreters.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_top) have argued that, when people are busy talking about interpreters, they’re not talking about more important issues around sign language recognition or advancing Deaf causes. That may be so, but it’s the individual decisions of millions of people that create the viral effect in such cases, not a deliberate propaganda campaign by anyone trying to distract the world from weightier matters.

The chances are, of course, that most of the ‘favourites’ and ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ for these videos are perpetrated by hearing people, many of them almost certainly non-signers. They just think it looks good or fun. Are they, in fact, harming the prospects of Deaf people because their actions are somehow ‘inappropriate’? This is certainly a complex question: is it possible to find signing attractive for the wrong reasons?

What is not being discussed much is whether these performances embody ‘good’ translations. But, then, if the issue is about ethical and unethical behaviour, does it actually matter whether the interpretation would score a 57% or an 83% as a graded course assignment? If it’s only okay to post video-recordings of yourself on YouTube if you perform well, the internet just got an awful lot roomier.

One of the reasons some give for disliking it when interpreters become prominent is that they may be achieving significant financial gain from their actions. In an economy where every interpreter should be well aware that Deaf people tend to be under-employed, it is argued that lucrative personal enrichment, secured in this way, is immoral.

Some interpreters are said to slide from prominent performances to a willingness to ‘represent’ Deaf people’s interests in the media. Intuitively, this may seem straightforwardly wrong. Is it? Are there any instances where people would see this differently – where are the boundaries? Can we always find a clean line between representing Deaf interests and representing interpreters’ interests?

But back to the music. Is the problem simply that Deaf people don’t actually enjoy song interpretation? (Would it surprise us if the answer were that some do, and some don’t?) Or is the frustration that these are instances of hearing interpreters occupying the limelight when, actually, some Deaf people enjoy producing signed songs, too?

Or could this be flipped on its head? Is the concern fundamentally that signing to music isn’t culturally Deaf? As artistic as these performances may or may not be, perhaps they represent a form of cultural appropriation – re-purposing an aspect of Deaf heritage in a way that is not rooted in Deaf ethnicity, and therefore stands as an ill-informed and ill-judged act of exploitation.

In under 800 words, we’ve found our way from the throwaway hilarity of Eurovision to the knottier end of intercultural politics. No-one said that LifeinLINCS would be an easy ride!

Reporting from “Can Scotland Play a Leading Role in Defining Heritage?”

by Emma Hill
What is Scotland’s relationship with the UNESCO Charter for the Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage?  What should it be?
How can ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ be defined?  Should it be defined at all?  Can ‘heritage’ be split into ‘tangible’ and ‘intangible’ features?  Should it be split?
Who defines a ‘heritage’ project?  What does ‘community’ mean?  What is the sector’s role in supporting heritage projects? Is it possible for institutions to avoid getting in the way?
Can Scotland Play a Leading Role in Defining Heritage was the first SML Thought Leadership Event organised by the Intercultural Research Centre.  The event saw speakers from across Scotland’s heritage sector come together to discuss a range of issues facing cultural heritages in Scotland today. A full description and programme of the evening can be found here.
‘Heritage is a resource rooted in the past that goes forward to the present and looks to the future’ (Mairead Nic Craith)
Professor Máiréad Nic Craith began the discussion by highlighting how understandings of heritage have developed from an initial emphasis on ‘tangible’ heritage (such as the World Heritage sites), considered of ‘outstanding cultural value’ to a re-emphasis on both the tangible and intangible heritages deemed ‘of cultural significance’ by the communities that create them.  Joanne Orr spoke of the work of Museum Galleries Scotland (MGS), the only accredited NGO in the UK to be involved in the Convention for Cultural Heritage, and emphasised that Scotland’s position in the Convention will remain problematic as long as the Convention is not ratified by a Westminster government.  She questioned whether Westminster’s lack of involvement in the Convention meant that the UK is losing its edge when it comes to thinking about heritage.
Luke Wormald detailed the Scottish Government’s continued commitment to nurture cultural heritages in Scotland.  He noted that the desire to protect cultural heritages could lead to isolating it from its communities, and explained how, through an emphasis on people and place, the Scottish Government hoped to avoid this.  Janet Archer drew on her experience at Creative Scotland to highlight the importance of people’s emotion and reaction when they encounter arts in Scotland.  She argued that the ‘intangible benefits of arts practices fuel who we are and how we feel in a profound way’ and re-stated the importance of cultural heritage to Creative Scotland.  Colin McLean noted that the Heritage Lottery Fund ‘refuses to define heritage’, seeking its definition instead from applicants and projects.  He argued that the wealth of applications received by the Heritage Lottery Fund means that engaging with heritage in Scotland is ‘not only desirable but unavoidable’.
Questions from the floor prompted discussions about ways in which ICH might perpetuate inequalities in terms of gender, language and migrant communities.  The audience also highlighted the potential of ICH for community healing.  The discussion concluded with the observation that although heritage remains an undervalued subject in UK universities, it has strong potential for the future.
Chair, Ann Packard, brought the evening to a close by encouraging the audience to view the UNESCO pages to see the ‘most remarkable list’ of tangible and intangible heritages.
 Further discussion about any of the issues raised at the event would be very welcome!
 @hw_irc was live-tweeting from the event: a timeline of tweets can be found here: https://storify.com/Gebeleisis/sml-thought-leadership-event

Can Scotland play a leading role in redefining Heritage?

The Intercultural Research Centre in LINCS is leading the next event in the Thought Leadership Series, which will take place on Wednesday 27th May 2015 at 6.00pm at the Postgraduate Centre, Heriot-Watt University, with the title “Can Scotland play a leading role in redefining Heritage?”

Beltane Fire Festival

Before the referendum the SNP promised that in the event of a yes vote, Scotland would sign up to UNESCO’s Charter for Safeguarding of The Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH).

Given the result of the vote, Scotland is not in a position to sign the Charter unless it can persuade Westminster of the value of doing so – but should it? How do we define intangible heritage in Scotland today? Should language be explicitly identified as ICH and does this include British Sign Language and the languages of migrants? Does it include aspects of living heritage supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund? Has ICH any relevance at all for the Historic and Built Environment?

Involving representatives from across the heritage sector, this Thought Leadership Seminar will focus on the heightened awareness of ICH nationally and internationally. It will explore the implications of ICH for the public sector, from museums to the Historic Environment to universities. It will ask whether now is the time for Scotland to take a leading role in creatively re-defining the relationship between tangible and intangible heritage by pioneering a new holistic approach to heritage that will be of relevance on a global scale.

 

Programme

 17:30 Arrival, refreshments and light buffet
 18:00 Setting the Context
Professor Máiréad Nic Craith
Chair in European Culture and Heritage, Heriot-Watt University
18:10 Speakers

  • Ann Packard (Chair) – Chairperson of the RSA Scotland
  • Joanne Orr, CEO of Museums Galleries Scotland
  • Luke Wormald, Head of Historic Environment Strategy, Scottish Government
  • Janet Archer, CEO Creative Scotland
  • Colin McLean, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund
19:00 Open Discussion
19:30 Informal discussion and refreshments
20:00 Event close

This event is free. You can now register online to attend