Specifically, the project is developing a modularised training curriculum with qualification standards specialised for Adult Education.
It will also produce a handbook for trainers including a theoretical framework of basic concepts, learning outcomes and the training package itself which will include practical exercises and, where possible, case studies.
All the training materials will be uploaded to a publicly accessible Moodle platform, which will be accessed via our website.
Covid-19 impact on our project
These last few months have certainly been different and difficult for many of us. Many aspects of our work and our lives have changed as we are being affected in ways we could not imagine.
In light of the rapidly changing situation with the Coronavirus pandemic, the team decided that our Joint Staff Training Event which was due to take place on 04-08 May 2020 in Rethymno, Greece, had to be postponed.
If circumstances allow it, we will reschedule for some time in autumn 2020 or winter 2021.
Our 4th project meeting took place online due to Covid-19 restrictions
With the help of technology, we were able to hold an online partners’ meeting on the 18th of May instead of our planned one in Crete. We discussed the current and next stages of the project and made sure that everyone is all right and coping with the situation at the moment. The meeting agenda can be found here.
During this online meeting, the team – joined by our external evaluator, Dr. Jim Crowther – discussed the impact of Covid-19 on our project, the communications between our coordinator and the National Agency and an eventual request for our project’s extension. This would allow us to carry out our Joint Staff Training Event and Multiplier Events in the future, hopefully once the situation with Covid-19 will be clearer.
Our teams have completed our Curriculum development on intercultural education and training for Adult educators, which was developed based on O1 and O2 results, and our Intellectual Outputs 5 and 6, the Training guide for adult educators and the course syllabus with final material and useful information and tips will be made available to Adult educators and all interested parties. We also submitted a further progress report to the funder in April 2020, and we are awaiting the results and any recommendations.
We are now working on our Output 4, the learning materials for our online platform. The objective is to elaborate a set of sample training materials organised in modules and divided into topics. We are working on the development of the MOOC, where the training materials will be uploaded and adapted.
Our External Evaluator, Dr Jim Crowther gave us his comments and evaluation of our overall progress and we were happy to confirm that our work runs smoothly despite all the difficulties we face. We are very grateful to our external evaluator for his feedback and guidance so far. His expertise and engagement with the project are invaluable.
Remember that our website and our outputs are available in all project languages: English, Italian, Greek and Finnish.
The InterTrainE Moodle platform
During our meeting, our Finnish partner also showed us the Moodle platform and we discussed the final stages of Intellectual Output 4 – the online course. Finally, we discussed the outputs’ evaluation and peer reviewing process.
In the meantime, and as we all await developments on current circumstances, the InterTrainE partners have been busy getting used to working from home and still trying to engage with our audiences. We are continuing our research activities and development of material from home or from the workplace for those of us who are allowed to do so!
We are very excited and looking forward to presenting our platform soon, as online education has a more crucial role than ever before to support and connect learning communities. Stay tuned and check out our activities on our website: http://intertraine/eu
Online resources accessible now
While you are anxiously waiting for our updates (😊 😊), you can have a look at these online resources and tools for learners, teachers and educators during the outbreak of COVID-19 provided by EU-funded projects:
This blogpost is published to coincide with the publication of the DESIGNS research project report. This presentation was originally planned to be delivered at the Bridging the Gap 6 conference in Cardiff in November 2019, but due to technical issues with trying to live stream it could not happen. So instead we filmed our presentation and have created this blogpost to provide an English text equivalent. The goal of the Bridging the Gap conference series is to ensure that research taking place in academia is made available to the British Deaf community, and also that deaf BSL users can shape the research agenda. The 2017 Bridging the Gap conference was hosted at Heriot Watt University, so we hope that by making this blogpost it will some way make up for not being able to present at the 2019 conference.
Both of us work at Heriot-Watt University in the SIGNS@HWU team, which is affiliated to the Centre for Translation & Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS), and we were the UK team in the Designs Project from 2017-2019. The project is now finished, and the aim of this blogpost is to provide a conclusion to our work by presenting our key findings and also to provide information about the resources that have been developed through the life span of the project that specifically pertain to the UK context. In the videos linked to this blogpost you will see a taste of the resources that we have created.
What was the DESIGNS Project?
The DESIGNS Project was about deaf people in employment and the key focus of the research was to examine how deaf people work best with interpreters in employment contexts, including getting a new job, continuing employment working alongside regular interpreters, and also how one’s career progresses and how one gains promotion in the work place.
Funding for the project came from ERASMUS+. The research delved into what it is like for deaf people and, importantly, for interpreters who work alongside deaf colleagues in employment settings, as well as finding out employers’ views about deaf people in the workplace. There were seven project partners working across four different countries, so we worked with partners in Ireland, Belgium and Germany, including the European Forum for Sign Language Interpreters (efsli) and the European Union of the Deaf (EUD).
The culmination of the project was a meeting at the European Parliament in April 2019 when we shared the findings and discussed implications at a concluding event hosted by the (then) deaf MEP Helga Stevens.
One of the key aims of the project was to develop resources and training materials, as well as guidelines to help interpreters, deaf employees and employers to understand best practice in the work place. The project team felt that it was important to have research as the foundation for our work so that the resources we developed had a solid evidence base and linked theory to practice.
DESIGNS project research phases
The research itself had four phases. In the first of those, the EUD conducted a survey via national deaf associations across Europe pertaining to numbers of deaf people in employment and numbers of those who are unemployed. The survey also asked questions about the payment and booking of interpreters as well as a number of other issues. In the second of the four phases, we conducted a global literature review in the area of deafness and employment. Thirdly, each of the universities involved in the project conducted either focus groups or individual interviews, which were either face to face or online. We asked questions of employers, deaf employees and interpreters to really understand how they felt about the barriers and challenges they face as well as positive stories from their employment experiences. We were keen to gather information about these positive experiences as the team’s goal was to produce best practice guidelines, rather than focussing on negative experiences and obstacles. In summary, the third and fourth phases were aimed at eliciting views from the three groups of stakeholders: deaf employees, employers and interpreters.
This blogpost focuses on the British data set and we will share with you our findings from the three stakeholder groups in the UK and show you some of the resources we have developed for use in the UK.
We collected a wealth of data that we analysed for key themes and to identify gaps in existing knowledge.
We found that most people did not know what rights and what responsibilities they had and there were gaps in, firstly, organisational culture meaning the culture of the working environment and how it affects deaf employees. Secondly, we identified a gap in experience, thirdly a feedback gap and fourthly we identified systems gaps. An example of this being when deaf people finish school or university and attempt to transition into the workplace, many do not know how to find an interpreter, how to source funding to pay for support or how to work with hearing people. Many of our respondents went to deaf school and therefore struggled in an unfamiliar hearing environment. That is an organisational or cultural gap that we had not realised existed, as well as being a systems gap in terms of the lack of knowledge of where to find funding.
Also, most respondents reported feeling anxious about job interviews, again through lack of knowledge about how and when to source interpreters for the interview process. Further, they stated they lacked practice in interviews, interview techniques and how to work with interpreters in interview situations. The need for funding and where to find the funding was an identified gap. We would describe this situation as an experience and knowledge gap.
Many workplaces with multiple deaf employees make use of staff interpreters. Deaf respondents found this positive because it helps when the interpreters and deaf people are familiar with each other as this allows for smoother interpretation. Because the staff interpreters are familiar with the work place, it helps them to feel confident but a lot of people reported that they did not have access to regular interpreters and this creates a gap, as interpreters find it more difficult to interpret unfamiliar meetings, jargon and people’s names. Because of this difficulty, we identified that it is important for a regular pool of interpreters, familiar with the workplace, to be available.
This also helps interpreters to be more confident and competent in those work settings. There was a reported difficulty in finding the right interpreter because there are not enough interpreters and the demand exceeds the supply which sometimes resulted in respondents using Communication Support Workers (CSWs) not only due to the lack of interpreters but also because CSWs are cheaper for the company. So, not having enough interpreters is another gap.
Also, respondents commented on the importance of preparation so that interpreters know what to expect, as well as feedback to the interpreters from both hearing and deaf workers, which helps improve the standard of the interpretation and also encourages team work; the result being that deaf people are represented better. But many deaf respondents were nervous about giving feedback in case the interpreters took this negatively and then would not come back to work with them. This difficulty was expressed within the context of not having enough interpreters.
In relation to the UK Government’s ‘Access to Work’ scheme, many of our deaf participants reported that when starting a new job, they were unaware of how to apply, fill out the forms, etc., which led to delays of up to three or four months meaning it was difficult for them to start a new job without interpreting support. So, there is a need to change that situation and ensure immediate support is available because without such, hearing colleagues could misunderstand and get the wrong impression of their new deaf colleague.
Once in employment, a lot of our deaf respondents reported a lack of confidence in applying for promotion. This phenomenon could be linked to there not being enough interpreters or lack of available training. Deaf employees undertaking training have the additional burden of interpreter costs and questions remain over who will pay for interpreting services. For these reasons, it is more difficult for deaf employees to seek and gain promotion. Furthermore, not being able to hear means that they also miss out on office chat and gossip which may include informal information about pending available promotions. So, that’s another gap.
Also, hearing people are generally not familiar about how to work with deaf sign language users, so they experience anxiety and hesitation about how to relate to their deaf colleagues. These issues could be cross-cultural or due to misunderstandings and communication breakdowns. Thus, there is a need for training to be provided to non-deaf, or rather, non-signing personnel. The necessity of such training highlights the importance of the DESIGNS project.
The themes and gaps were identified as a pattern across three different countries: Germany, Ireland and the UK. We found a similar picture in each country so these issues are not only specific to the UK. They are widespread and similar in other countries too. What we have done here is used examples, such as Access to Work, that are specific to the UK to discuss the issues in relation to this country.
Training materials were developed in parallel across the different countries. So, we’ve developed specific resources in BSL. We have videos and also a training course that all stakeholders could undertake together. There’s an e-guide presented in sign language for deaf community members and we have versions of this in BSL, Irish Sign Language (ISL) and German Sign Language (DGS). We have a written guide for employers and all of these materials are available through the Designs website.
We have now finished the project and most of the resources are now available through the website with everything we have learned. We would like to share some sample clips of materials and resources we’ve developed throughout the project.
The first videos focus on job interviews and show what it’s like when deaf people go for interviews with an interpreter to try to get a job. The videos can be used in training for all three stakeholder groups: employers, deaf employees and interpreters.
In the Job Interview: Scenario 1 video, the interpreter was booked at the last minute, being contacted on the morning of an interview due to take place that afternoon, meaning that neither of the deaf interviewee or interpreter were prepared; they did not have the opportunity to meet beforehand and neither really knew what was involved.
In the Job Interview: Scenario 2 video, we see what happens when there is preparation; both the deaf interviewee and interpreter preparing beforehand and discussing the interview.
We have used these two videos in the training that we did with hearing, non-signing employers from a range of different organisations. We showed them the video without subtitles, so they had to watch and listen to the interpreter’s spoken English interpretation of the deaf interviewee’s signed utterances. They could obviously access the interviewers’ speech as well. After showing them both videos, we ask them to contrast the two. When we asked the employers what they thought about the deaf candidate in the first video, they responded that they would not have given her the job as she did not sound confident and was hesitant. With regards to the second video, they reported that they would have given her the job.
It was only afterwards that we told them that the candidate’s signing was exactly the same in both videos, and the hesitation actually came from the interpreter in the first video due to lack of preparation. The employers were dumfounded by the difference the interpreter made in their perception of the deaf interviewee, which made them aware of this issue. From this example we can see how important it is for interpreters to be prepared, to know the person well and generally be ready to interpret for a job interview. It is unfair for deaf candidates if the interpreter is unsure about who is present, information about the company and so on.
We have also shown the same two videos in a masterclass that we held in Edinburgh in collaboration with Deaf Action, where we had three groups representing deaf people, employers and interpreters. We showed them the same two videos and followed exactly the same procedure and got a similar reaction from all three groups. It had an impact on all of them, for example the deaf participants fully appreciated how working with an unprepared interpreter could seriously damage their job prospects at interview and for the interpreters, the experience also underscored the importance of preparation. All three groups realised how important an issue preparation is.
An important outcome of the project was to show different positive deaf role models in employment; success stories of those whose careers have gone well. So, we filmed various case studies of deaf people to share their experiences of how they have succeeded at work, including Toby Burton, who works in the finance industry.
We just picked one short clip from Toby’s video, as an example of a positive story that shows a deaf person being successful in his work and attaining a high-level position in industry. By showing what deaf people can do, the goal is particularly to encourage young deaf people by showing them what is possible through a variety of role models from a diverse range of backgrounds and in very different jobs, some working in deaf or sign language focused work and others not.
We also collected various case studies from a number of people across the three stakeholder groups of deaf people, interpreters and employers, in order to showcase good practice and give insights into experiences in deaf employment.
Our research showed that there did not seem to be enough visible deaf role models to show others how to succeed, as well as a lack of mentors, so it is even more important to have videos like these available.
The course curriculum contains a number of different modules, which are grouped to focus on the training needs of each of the three stakeholder groups. For the deaf participants, we focussed on their employment rights, such as interpreter provision as well as how to best work with an interpreter; and for the interpreter group, we gave similar information about how to build rapport with both the deaf candidate and the employers thereby creating a triadic relationship. For the employers’ group, we gave information about deaf people and their rights but also how to include them as employees in the workplace, dispelling any fears they may have and so on. So, the content of these modules can be made available to other institutions, such as universities or training centres and the videos and other training materials make up a whole package that can also be used for CPD workshops. In essence, these modules are available to pick and mix according to need and are freely available for anybody to use.
This is particularly useful for a deaf person starting a new job as they can select some of the materials to help their colleagues understand how best to work with them.
Example Session 4 is one example of one module content about what happens when deaf people graduate from college or university and how they then navigate the world of employment, including learning outcomes that link to videos and in this example, the video is a person from Ireland giving advice to deaf jobseekers.
Other materials have been designed specifically for deaf communities in the form of a tailored E-Guide each for the UK, Ireland and Germany, which is like written guidelines but presented in the national sign language, in our case BSL, and give ten tips for deaf sign language users on getting a job. These videos will be useful for young deaf people because they are delivered in sign language.
We also produced a guide for employers, which comes in the form of a small booklet and it is aimed at employers who are preparing to bring a deaf employee into their workplace. It contains useful information gathered through our research from employers who told us what they needed to know.
The employer guide has been sent out to employers that were involved in the project so they can share it with others, and is available to download from the project website, so please feel free to disseminate it as widely as possible. We want to enable deaf people to have as smooth a transition into employment as possible.
2019, the Centre for Translation &
Interpreting Studies in Scotland
and the Heriot-Watt University BSL team (SIGNS@HWU) had the privilege of hosting a curriculum
development meeting to discuss a potential pioneering new Masters programme in
Sign Language Interpreting in Conferences and High-Level Meetings, as well as
the delivery of a ‘taster’ course in 2020 in order to boost the number of
International Sign interpreters currently working in these contexts.
The project has been
established in recognition of the increasing demand for sign language
interpreters to work at international conferences and high-level meetings, and
also to increase the numbers of International Sign interpreters accredited
through the WASLI-WFD International Sign interpreter accreditation system.
recognised Heriot-Watt University as being the ideal university to develop a
new Masters programme, as LINCS been offering
courses in Conference Interpreting since 1970 and is one of only four UK
university departments that have been granted membership of CIUTI, an international body which
brings together universities which specialise in translating and interpreter
training. LINCS is also a partner with the Magdeburg University of Applied
Sciences in Germany and HUMAK University of Applied Sciences in Finland in the
delivery of the European Masters in Sign Language Interpreting (EUMASLI). Thus, we will draw together
our expertise in training both spoken and signed language interpreters to
deliver this pioneering course. It is hoped that the new Masters programme will
commence from September 2021
2020 intensive course
The first step in the
curriculum development project is to offer an intensive ‘booster’ course in
5-day course on sign language interpreting in international conferences and
high-level meetings (SLIC) for professionally qualified national sign
language interpreters focuses on strengthening International Sign skills,
enhancing awareness of relevant European and international institutions, as
well as practical translingual interpreting skills, working between
primarily English and International Sign but also other spoken and signed
(2) To boost the
number of International Sign interpreters working internationally, but
particularly in Europe to meet needs at the European Commission, the European
Parliament, at United Nations Geneva, and also for academic conferences and
(3) To trial
curriculum content for a potential new Masters programme in Sign Language
Interpreting at Conferences to be offered through Heriot-Watt University LINCS.
aim of the intensive course is to work towards readiness for applying for
accreditation either with WFD-WASLI, or for EU or UN accreditation.
the intensive training course is no guarantee of accreditation or offers of
work as an International Sign interpreter
The final course content and
delivery will be finalised once the language combinations of the participants
have been confirmed. Overall, using a case study approach, the 5-day course
will include discussions and practical sessions on:
The International Sign/
multilingual interpreting landscape
EU and international
Enhancing translingual skills
International Sign ‘therapy’
Applied interpreting skills
Critical reflective practice
One-to-one structured feedback
Professionalism and ethics
state-of-the-art digital interpreting and sign language labs will be available
exclusively for use by students on this course, as well as access to bespoke
visual software for recording and annotating sign language interpreting work.
The course will be
delivered primarily by leading sign language, deaf studies and sign language
interpreting researchers, educators and practitioners at Heriot-Watt,
Professor Jemina Napier: Accredited
WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Associate member, Registered
Qualified BSL/English interpreter, Accredited Auslan/English interpreter,
expertise in research and teaching on sign language interpreting
Professor Graham H. Turner:
Sign language policy and Interpreting Studies academic, co-founder of the
EUMASLI and Heriot-Watt BSL UG programmes, expertise in research and teaching
on sign language interpreting and BSL policy
Dr Annelies Kusters:Deaf
Studies academic, expertise in research and teaching on deaf ethnographies,
professional mobilities, translanguaging and International Sign
Dr Robert Adam:Accredited
WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, Registered Qualified BSL-ISL
interpreter, Registered Qualified BSL-English translator, expertise in research
and teaching on sign language contact and sign language interpreting. (joining
Heriot-Watt staff in April 2020)
Dr Stacey Webb: Certified
ASL/English interpreter, expertise in teaching sign language interpreting and
research on sign language interpreting pedagogy
Andy Carmichael: Accredited
WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Associate member, Registered
Qualified BSL/English interpreter, Accredited Auslan/English interpreter, Chair
of the board of Association of Sign Language Interpreters UK (ASLI UK), in-house
interpreter at Heriot-Watt, expertise in training and mentoring sign language
Christopher Tester: Accredited
WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter, AIIC Full member, Certified
ASL/English interpreter, PhD student at Heriot-Watt, expertise in training sign
further input will come from LINCS academics who are experts in teaching multilingual,
spoken language conference interpreting, and external collaborators with
expertise in International Sign and International Sign interpreting.
this course for?
intensive course is targeted at sign language interpreters from any country who
have not yet achieved WFD-WASLI International Sign interpreter accreditation,
or are already accredited but do not feel that they have previously received
sufficient training and would like more professional skills development. Priority
will be given to applicants who are not yet accredited.
are particularly encouraged from interpreters who are deaf, female or from
A quota of
places will be offered to European-based interpreters due to the part funding
of the course by the European Commission.
Applicants for the intensive
course must meet the following essential criteria:
Hold a national sign language interpreting
qualification (or equivalent)
Have a minimum of 5 years
post-qualification (or equivalent) experience in national sign language
extensive experience of national sign language interpreting in conference or
high-level meetings (minimum of 50 hours)
Evidence of IS conference interpreting experience
(minimum of 20 hours)
Applications from deaf or hearing
interpreters from countries that do not have established undergraduate sign
language interpreting programmes, or professional infrastructure will be
considered on a case-by-case basis for the equivalent knowledge and experience.
Apply – click
here to get more information and how to apply
I considered it to be a unique opportunity and I immediately started
emailing around, to find out more about all the requirements and the procedure
in general. I was trying not to get my hopes up at first, as I thought that it
was just one opening and I guessed that many other students would have been
Nevertheless, after a few meetings with HWU Marco Polo Coordinator John Cleary and Cultural Studies coordinator
Katerina Strani and several emails
later, it was confirmed from Vietnam that I was accepted! The University took
care of my trip there and I arranged the matter of my VISA (got reimbursed
later). I also received a grant for my expenses during my stay there.
By the end of October, I was in Vietnam, where I spent the next two weeks. I explored the vibrant city of Hanoi and I was able to travel around the country as well. Apart from its natural beauty, Vietnam is soaked in history. A millennium under the rule of China, the French colonisation and the Vietnamese war have left their marks that are evident in its cultural heritage.
At the HANU University of Hanoi, I was welcomed by Mrs. Nhai Nguyen, Mr. Ha Pham Viet and the manager of the programme, Prof. Nhat Tuan Nguyen. My classmates were very friendly, and we exchanged our points of view regarding cultural differences, as well as several cultural and heritage-related topics. Their insights helped me understand Vietnamese culture much better.
Here are some interesting facts around student life in Hanoi:
Classes start at 7.00 in the morning and facilities like the library
close after 18.45. Yeap… You might have to say goodbye to 9.15 for a while!
Students who live in the dorms pay almost £17/month (Monthly average
income per capita in an urban area for 2018: £185)  and share the room with
another 6, 8 or 10 persons. This would be very difficult for me and I would
guess for other Westerners, as I appreciate my privacy.
As a final point, I would like to encourage all students to make the most of their student life and participate in exchange programmes in order to meet new people and places and expand their horizons. My experience was unforgettable!
IndyLan includes 5
partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Norway and Spain) and aims to develop a
mobile application which will help to learn the languages and cultures
associated with the following indigenous languages: Gaelic, Scots,
Cornish, Basque, Galician and Saami. The
project will develop an educational tool
designed specifically for users to learn not only some of Europe’s endangered
languages but also more about the cultures of the people who speak these
The IndyLan application
will help speakers of English, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish and Finnish to learn
Gaelic (designated as ‘definitely endangered’), Scots (‘severely endangered’),
Cornish (‘critically endangered’), Basque (‘severely endangered’), Galician (a
minority language) and Saami (‘severely endangered’).
constitutes a gamified language-learning solution in the form of a mobile
application. Smartphones have become a popular educational tool and the number
of the smartphone and tablet users of all ages is constantly growing in the EU. The application is
building on a previous project, Moving Languages, with the key
difference that IndyLan will
produce one application for all languages, and not multiple language-specific
applications as Moving Languages did. IndyLan will
contain around 4,000 vocabulary items (both terms and expressions) in about 100
categories. The modes that will be available in the application are:
Vocabulary; Phrases; Dialogues; Grammar; Culture; Test.
app will be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in
September 2021. It will be available for
download globally for free in both iOS and Android. Like all language-learning
apps, IndyLan is
complementary to other language- and culture courses and can be considered to
be part of self-study material.
Our vision is for the IndyLan app to contribute to endangered language learning and revitalisation so that these languages remain alive and relevant in contemporary societies and economies.
News and updates
Our kick-off meeting took place in Edinburgh on 07-08 October 2019.
The first Intellectual Output is a short needs analysis, which will be published in early February. The 2nd Intellectual Output will be the application itself, which will be ready in beta version by April 2021. The 3rd Intellectual Output will be the pilot testing of the app which will be carried out by remote users as well as participants in our multiplier events in all partner countries in the summer of 2021. The app will be launched at the Final Dissemination Conference in Cornwall in September 2021. It will be available for download globally for free in both iOS and Android.
Our project website will soon be available, so stay tuned!
LINCS stands for Languages and INterCultural Studies and our core
purpose is to create multilingual,
multicultural, global citizens. To achieve this, the “INCS” in LINCS also specialises in Cultural Studies such as living
cultural heritage, intercultural dialogue, migrant identities and intercultural
Our Cultural Studies section manages the cultural studies courses and programmes we deliver. Courses include Global Heritage, Cross-Cultural perspectives on Society, Intercultural perspectives on Sustainable Development, as well as the Global Courses (taught in all HWU campuses) Intercultural Issues in Business and Management (Undergraduate – also offered as part of Graduate Apprenticeship programmes), and Intercultural Communication in the Workplace (Postgraduate). It also manages our MSc Cultural Heritages programme family, which includes our MSc in Cultural Heritage Management with Tourism. Cultural Studies staff and students are also members of our Intercultural Research Centre (IRC).
Katerina Strani is
the Head of the Cultural Studies section. She has a background in Languages and
Political Theory and her PhD thesis (2011) focused on communicative rationality
in the public sphere. Her research is interdisciplinary, and she is interested
in how multilingualism and multiculturalism shape contemporary society and
politics at all levels. Following an EU-funded project on hate speech and
Katerina has developed a keen research interest in race relations and the
language of racism. She has published
papers on these topics, as well as intercultural dialogue from the
perspective of belonging and heritage, discourses of Europeanness and hate
communication. She has led EU-funded projects in intercultural training for
educators, mobile tools for refugees and newly-arrived migrants as well as for
learning indigenous languages, and has participated in a GRCF-funded project on
digital tools for Rohingya refugees in SE Asia.
Nic Craith is Professor of European
Culture and Heritage. Máiréad’s academic career began with a lectureship at the
University of Liverpool’s Institute of Irish Studies, funded as a result of the
Irish Government’s commitment to the Anglo- Irish Agreement. Subsequently, she
was Director of the Academy for Irish Cultural Heritages at the University of
Ulster, set up in the aftermath of the Good Friday Agreement to undertake
cross-community research, teaching and outreach activities. During that time,
she collaborated with government and charitable organisations, such as the European
Bureau for Lesser Used Languages, Derry City Council, Diversity 21, the Ulster
American Folk Park, and the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. Collaborative
projects included a commissioned report for Fermanagh District Council on
cultural and linguistic policy. She led a report on African migration in
Northern Ireland commissioned by the Community Relations Council, and organised
a symposium on peace agreements and (mis)communication (in honour of the Nobel
laureate John Hume). In 2007, she was invited by the Smithsonian Folklife
Festival, Washington, to prepare a brief relating to culture and language
issues in Northern Ireland. Since her arrival to Heriot-Watt University in
2012, Mairead has developed links with national organisations such as the National
Library of Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland, and international
organisations such as POLIN (Museum of the History of Polish Jews). Having
collaborated with organisations such as the UN in Geneva, the Scottish-Polish
Heritage Project in Edinburgh and the Community Relations Council in Belfast,
she is deeply committed to enhancing awareness of the potential of heritage to
make a positive contribution to society (see her TEDx talk on Intangible
Heritage 2015). From 2016- 2019, she was involved in a HORIZON 2020
European-wide collaborative research project on cultural heritage and social
identity and cohesion. For a complete list of Máiréad’s publications, please
Kockel is Professor of Cultural
Ecology and Sustainability at HWU, as well as Emeritus Professor of Ethnology
at the University of Ulster and Visiting Professor in Vytautas Magnus
University, Kaunas. He has a diverse academic and professional background, switching
from a career in industrial management (Shell) to academic positions in
Economics, Political Science, Sociology, and later Irish Studies and Ethnology.
In 2003 he was elected to the Academy of Social Sciences and in 2012 he was
elected to the Royal Irish Academy.
Ullrich’s overarching research interest is in
sustainable local and regional development, especially the appraisal, planning
and management of heritage and other cultural resources, approached from an
interdisciplinary perspective rooted in anthropology, cultural ecology and
political economy. He has conducted fieldwork and led projects throughout
Europe. He is currently leading a work package in a €2.5m Horizon2020
project, CoHERE, on cultural forms and expressions of identity in
Europe. For a complete list of Ullrich’s publications, please click here.
Pfeiffer is the Director of
Undergraduate Teaching Programmes in LINCS. Her academic background is in literature
and history, and her PhD work focused on new theoretical approaches to medieval
biblical drama. She is secretary for and co-founder of the BASE (Bodies, Affects, Senses and Emotions) working
group at the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore (SIEF) and was
the School of Social Sciences representative on Subject Panel B (Design, Visual
Arts, Architecture, Creative Writing, Film, Drama & Theatre Studies,
Cultural Policy (Policy, Arts Management & Creative Industries), Music,
Television Studies) of the Scottish
Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities for 3
Kerstin’s current research interests lie in the
area of theatre and performance studies and particularly in the investigation
of the afterlives of older dramatic forms and the role of drama in shaping,
maintaining and challenging notions of identity and community. She has published
on these topics and presented her research at many international
conferences. For a list of Kerstin’s publications, please click here.
Angelelli is Professor and Chair in
Multilingualism and Communication. She is also Professor Emerita
at San Diego State University and Visiting Professor at Beijing University
of Foreign Studies. Her research sits at the intersection of sociolinguistics,
applied linguistics and translation and interpreting studies. She designed the
first empirically-driven language proficiency and interpreter readiness tests
for The California Endowment and Hablamos Juntos (Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation). She has been PI in research projects in Argentina, Australia, the
European Union, and the United States. She has also led ISO 13611:
Standards on Community Interpreting and co-authored The California
Standards for Health Care Interpreters. Ethical Principles, Protocols, and
Guidance on Interpreter Roles and Interventions. She teaches Intercultural
Communication in the Workplace and Translation and Interpreting Studies. For a
full list of publications, please click here.
Associate Professor and Director of Studies for Exchange Programmes. With a
background in Applied Linguistics, English and TESOL, John teaches British
Culture & Society, Film Studies, Introduction to Languages and
Intercultural Studies, and Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe. He
has coordinated many projects on internationalisation, pedagogy and
intercultural communication in Europe, Turkmenistan and South-East Asia. For a
list of John’s publications, please click here.
topic: Festivals and folklore through the lens of affect and emotions:
the case study of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia, supervised by Máiréad
Nic Craith and Kerstin
Chiara’s research explores the relationship between
cultural heritage performance and collective identity construction. Drawing
upon previous studies and theories which analysed national and cultural
identity construction in sites of heritage and memory (Knudsen, 2011; Arnold-de
Simine, 2013; Wight, 2016), in this research the focus shifts from museums to
ceremonies. The thesis suggests that dynamic heritage avenues, such as folklore
and festivals, could be also considered “places” of identity construction. It
also explores the dynamics of identity construction and representation in
festivals, through the lens of emotion and affect (Smith, 2006). For this
purpose, the research adopts the Festival of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia as its
case study, mainly because of its popularity among Sardinian population and
visitors, and its longevity (it has been celebrated in the island every year
since 1656). Moreover, as a Sardinian woman who has been living in Scotland for
over five years, Chiara considers this festival as part of her cultural
heritage and Sardinian belonging. Her research is, therefore, also a means
through which she can keep connected to her original home despite the physical
distance. Twitter: @ChiaraCocco88
research project results from a partnership between the IRC, Celtic and
Scottish Studies (University of Edinburgh) and Traditional Arts and
Culture Scotland (TRACS, Scottish Storytelling Centre). It examines the reasons
behind the resurgence of interest in this old art form and folk custom and its
cultural implications. It seeks to investigate the motivations for participants
and what these can tell us about modern attitudes to concepts like tradition
and authenticity. The main aim of the project is to explore the place of
revived folk drama in contemporary Scottish society through the following
objectives: to produce a survey of Scottish folk drama activities today; to
examine community-led performances and related activities ethnographically; to
evaluate the motivations and aspirations of participants and organisers and to
assess their contribution to aspects of local identity, ideas of tradition, and
community dynamics; to investigate how folk drama as a living practice
contributes to developing conceptualisations of Intangible Cultural Heritage in
Scotland; and to contribute to the newly emerging ‘Creative Ethnology’ movement
led by the three institutions involved.
Thesis topic: Collecting and preserving
access to Intangible Cultural Heritage within the digital environment:
Evaluating New Models for Scotland, supervised byMáiréad
Nic Craith and Ullrich
Kockel. Co-supervision from heritage
specialists is provided by Alistair Bell, Sound Curator, National Library of
Scotland and Scotland’s Sounds Project Manager, and Dr Hugh Hagan, National
Records of Scotland, whose expertise includes oral history and community
This research is funded by the AHRC through the
Scottish Cultural Heritage Consortium Scholarship, 2016-19. It critically
examines issues surrounding digital preservation and access to ICH in Scotland,
through the case study of Scotland’s Sounds. The project will examine how
Scotland’s Sounds can ensure the sustainability of ICH sound collections,
encompassing issues of: (1) collecting sound in a digital environment (2)
digital access and preservation of sound material; (3) sustainable
relationships between creators, community organisations and public
institutions. The aim is to provide a theoretically informed critical analysis
of the opportunities and challenges that advances in digital technology present
for heritage organisations seeking to enhance the value, profile and
understanding of ICH. Twitter: @ArchiveGnome
topic: ‘Sustainable Communities and Cultural Heritage Management: A closer
look at the Isle of Skye’, supervised by Ullrich Kockel and Kerstin
With a focus on local
communities, this thesis will analyse the sustainability of communities on the
Isle of Skye and how concerns over growing tourism have affected the cultural
heritage of this island. The aim is to provide practical advice and analysis in
order to better manage the relationship between local communities and the
tourism industry, in relation to sustainability and cultural heritage
management. The theoretical framework will focus on the link between
sustainability and cultural heritage management, discussing how we can develop
and nurture the future sustainability of communities on the Isle of Skye in
terms of heritage and culture. Emphasis will also be placed on external factors
such as social and traditional media, as well as the Bridge to Skye, detailing
how this has impacted the local communities, tourism industry, overall economy
and daily lives of the islanders. This thesis will address the necessity in
taking measures to ensure that tourism growth can be effectively managed in the
present and subsequent future, in relation to sustainability, to ensure that
the cultural heritage of the island is preserved and that the relationships
fostered between the local communities and the tourism industry remain
topic: ‘Becoming a smaller part of a larger whole: changing perceptions
of European identity in the Scottish independence movement’,
supervised by Katerina
Strani and Ullrich
This thesis explores how the perception and
understanding of European identity has changed in Scotland since 2014. Is the
adaptation of European identity for the purposes of supporting independence
merely a political, strategic use of collective identity, or has the debate on
EU membership resulted in a wider transformation of the role of Europe in
identity formation in Scotland? By means of ethnographic fieldwork, this
project aims form a better understanding of the function of Europe within the
identity formation of people in Scotland since the Brexit referendum. The
thesis aims to link the ethnological study of European identity to concepts of
vulnerability and shelter from small state studies. If Scotland were to become
an independent state it would be considered a small state in Europe. Due to
their size, small states have less resources than larger states, making them
more vulnerable to their external environment. Small states may seek ‘shelter’
with larger states or international organisations to counteract their
vulnerability. The thesis will ask how perceived vulnerability influences the
formation of European identity and whether European identity offers a form of
shelter by being conceptualised as a support for Scottish independence.
Thesis topic: ‘Curating Heritage for
Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of
Scotland’s Northern Isles’, supervised by Ullrich
Heddle and Ian Tait.
Catherine is undertaking practice-based research with people in the archipelagos of Orkney and Shetland. Her research is funded through an SGSAH ARC Studentship. The research practice is a project to co-curate a virtual museum of the Northern Isles, and is funded by Museums Galleries Scotland, the Hugh Fraser Foundation and Shetland Museum and Archives. Catherine’s interests include creative ethnology; exploring the radical politics of co-curation as a mode for communities mobilising shared authority and cultural democracy towards more socially just and sustainable futures; collaborative deliberation of value formation and social learning for sustainable development; identity-work; and developing new ways of knowing and working through praxis. For more information on Catherine’s background and research, click here. Twitter: @kittyjmac and @NorthernNousts
As one of the longest relationships in the history,
the Auld Alliance challenges the recent Brexit discourse, which seeks to
establish a new geography outside of Europe. In its pursuit of a separatist
utopia free from bonds of European policy, Brexit offers a fictionalised
geography that denies Scotland’s seven centuries of European cultural
belonging. Marc’s PhD research is an exploration of the Auld Alliance as a
re-reading of Scotland’s heritage discourse with a view to establishing a
counter-heritage (to that which lies in the wings post-Brexit), one that
establishes an identity that cannot readily disentangle itself from European
culture. In a country where almost 20% of its population are in fact from
foreign origin and in which 5% of the total population came from European
Union, such political discourse endangers its multicultural stability. Perhaps
it is reflection of why Scotland voted to remain at 63%.
topic: Interpreting Istanbul Grand Bazaar as a traditional
marketplace: contemporary cultural discourse, supervised
Taheri and Máiréad
This research is intrigued by work of cultural
discourse scholars, including Foucault, Said and Bakhtin, whose theory of
cultural consumption space provides with the conceptual vocabularies such as
‘orientalism’ and the ‘third space’. These spaces are unusual, anti-structured
and exceptional. Framed within such notions, the material and imaginary
landscape of Istanbul Bazaar offers such venue for cultural consumption
experience in non-Western context. The primary aim of this study is to bring
together contemporary cultural discourse in a traditional marketplace, with
particular focus on the Istanbul Bazaar, testing the usefulness of such theory
as an interpretive framework in a specific exceptional space in non-Western
context. More specifically, this study aims to offer insight into an
understanding of Western consumers’ journey and experience, examining the
dynamic process that flows from pre-visit to post-visit. The mixed-method
approach is used to collect data from both visitors and locals in order to
answer the aim of this study. The qualitative approach is applied using
observation, netnography and interviews, while the quantitative approach is
applied using questionnaires. For a list of Ozge’s publications, please
One year on, and our
team grew by two members! Kate Sailer from CLP gave a birth to a boy in May 2019 and Kalli Rodopoulou from EELI also gave birth to a boy in July 2019.
For the rest of us, it’s business as usual. The 3rdInterTrainE partners’ meeting took place in Helsinki on 12-13 September 2019.
always, all partners participated and we were joined by our External Evaluator,
Dr Jim Crowther. We
are very grateful to our external evaluator for his feedback and guidance so
far. His expertise and engagement with the project are invaluable.
We discussed the 4th intellectual output (IO4 – Training material for online use). Work is already under way. Georgia Zervaki from EELI, the IO4 leader, presented the timeline for material development and Monica Miglionico from Studio Risorse showed us some concrete examples of material developed so far.
Marja-Liisa Helenius (LFI)
presented the updates on the InterTrainE platform (Moodle), which is starting
to take shape, at least it in its technical form.
Katerina Strani (HWU), as
coordinator, was tasked with updating the partnership on internal evaluation,
peer reviewing and external evaluation, both by Dr Jim Crowther and by the EU.
We are very pleased to announce that our Progress Report satisfied the funder and there are no issues to address! As we are approaching the completion of the first half of the 26-month project, we are busy preparing the documents for the Interim Report to the funder.
The project is on track, and the timeline is as follows:
IO5 (Training guide for Adult Educators) – December 2019
IO6 (Course Syllabus) – January 2020
IO4 (Training material for online use) – April 2020
The Joint-Staff Training Event (JSTE), which will test
the course material with non-project participants from the partner countries
(both educators and learners) will take place in Rethymno, Crete, 04-08 May
2020. Our next project meeting will take place on 07 and 08 May in Rethymno,
which will give us the opportunity to look at the JSTE and the feedback and
plan the necessary changes to the course.
More updates on the JSTE will be sent later on in the year. Watch this space!
partnership had dinner at a traditional Karelian restaurant in Helsinki. Thank
you Marja-Liisa Helenius for the hospitality J
For more information about the
project, please visit our website, which
includes information and updates on our project, as well as all Intellectual
Outputs to date. The website is available in all partner languages – English, Greek, Italian and Finnish.
Updates are published
regularly on social media. To make sure you don’t miss out:
LINCS is glad to announce that this academic year (2019-20), a Language Tandem app will be running after the huge success and very positive feedback received last year. This app is intended to get Heriot-Watt students (and staff, if they so wish) in touch so that they can practice their languages.
Tandem App – what is it?
Language Tandem App is designed and developed for and by Heriot-Watt University students under the guidance José M Conde and Liz Thoday (LINCS) and Santiago Chumbe (MACS).
The app aims to help language learners find conversation partners. Think Tinder, but with languages!
does it work?
It’s very easy. You just need to sign
up with your Heriot-Watt University email account. The first page you encounter
should look something like this:
To sign up you’ll need your HWU credentials, and once you’re in, you’ll need to create a profile. We recommend that you create a profile that represents who you are. Don’t be shy, let others know what your interests are, it could be anything from football to manga. Once you find someone that matches your profile, say hi to them, get a conversation started and in no time you could be meeting socially to practice your foreign language.
“I found the app very useful, I was able to speak with my match in the foreign language I am studying (Spanish) and they spoke to me in English to improve, giving each other feedback as we went along.” (anonymous feedback)
The idea is for students meet regularly and practice English for, say, 30 minutes, and another language (there are many to choose from!) for another 30 minutes. This is a brilliant opportunity for people who need an extra little bit of conversation practice, and for this reason, we’ve created a platform where you’re in control, you decide who you want to meet up with, and you decide what languages you want to practice!
“Very useful as it is a great way to find people that are able to help you and want to chat in a casual setting” (anonymous feedback)
August 18-25, Ramon Inglada, Assistant
Professor in Spanish and Translation Technologies in LINCS, had the priviledge of
carrying out a teaching mobility in Vietnam, at Hanoi University (HANU), under
the framework of the Marco Polo international cooperation programme between
Asian and European universities.
During his stay in Vietnam, Ramon, who is also the LINCS Director of Studies for Incoming Exchange Students, attended several meetings with HANU’s international office staff. The main purpose of these meetings was to analyse and compare how the academic exchange programmes work in both institutions. Ways to further promote international cooperation, not only between Hanoi University and Heriot-Watt University but also in more general terms between European and Asian academic institutions, were also discussed.
Ramon was also offered the possibility of collaborating with the Spanish and English departments at HANU. His activities there included the delivery of several sessions, both in English and Spanish, and in one case in front of an audience of more than 100 students, about professional practices in translation and on translation technologies (mainly computer-assisted translation tools and machine translation). The languages departments at both Hanoi University and Heriot-Watt University have a very strong focus on translation and interpreting, and these sessions were therefore considered to be very relevant for HANU’s cohort of final year language students.
valuable teaching mobility experience with an Asian university was very useful
to explore further cooperation opportunities between the two institutions and
also to raise the international profile and standing of Heriot-Watt University.
More information on the Marco Polo project, which is co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, can be found here: marcopoloproject.eu
After the successful event in 2016, it was time to hold another Intercultural
Research Centre (IRC) Symposium this year, themed “Scotland at a Crossroads – Heritage past and futures”.
This was the IRC’s flagship research event, in which we investigated the
challenges faced by Scotland in the light of recent political events in the
European context, with particular focus on culture, communities and heritage.
The event took place in March 2019 and included presentations by IRC members and guest speakers, a lecture delivered by our keynote speaker Dr. Tuuli Lähdesmäkion cultural heritage in Europe, and a round-table conversation about the implications of Brexit for Scotland. The symposium concluded with a cultural event and performance kindly sponsored by the Confucius Institute, followed by a wine reception.
We started with a multilingual welcome by IRC Director Mairead Nic
Craith and Acting Director Ullrich Kockel. One of our Deaf PhD students, Sanchu Iyer kindly showed the rest of
the audience the BSL signs for ‘Scotland’, ‘heritage’ and ‘Brexit’. The sign
for Scotland definitely had its roots
the one for Heritage reminded us of the act of passing something on, and the
one for Brexit gave the impression of a small part breaking out of a larger
First up was IRC member Dr Gina Netto, whose presentation was focused on ‘Heritage, Migration and Brexit’.
Gina argued that the social, political, economic and cultural landscape of the UK has been profoundly shaped by its heritage of colonialism, its involvement in the slave trade, post-war reconstruction and more recently, by its membership of the EU, all of which have contributed to major migratory flows. Public concerns around levels of immigration have often led politicians to respond with promises to reduce immigration to the ‘hundreds of thousands’ and to ‘take back control’ of its borders. Gina’s presentation considered the central role of race and migration in the events leading up to the 2016 EU referendum, the impacts of the outcome and how the UK may move forward in addressing these heavily contested issues.
Next, IRC member Dr Lina Fadelpresented “I belong, I belong not: Brexit, me, and a ‘Boy Named Sue’”.
In this presentation, Lina addressed
the question: ‘what does Brexit mean for our cultural and national identity and
belonging in Britain?’ Lina explored the portmanteau word ‘Brexit’ and its
cultural and spatial implications more closely, particularly its ‘alienating’
stance for people like herself (a naturalised UK citizen) who have ideals drawn
from multiple cultures and whose Britishness does not come with the historical
and nationalist repertoire that would enable them to identify with ‘the make
Britain great again’ and ‘to have our cake and eat it’ discourses or express their
Britishness in such linear ways. “We are constantly trying to form new
identities in this liminal, in-between (also referred to by post-colonial
theorist Homi Bhabha as ‘third’) space where ideologies and cultures continue
to collide”, Lina argued. Is Brexit itself a ‘third space’ that allows us to
negotiate meaning, representation and identity in a global world? And how can
we reconcile our multi-layered identities and cultures, both heritage and host,
and move forward when Britain has decided to go back to the ‘good old days’?
When asked her how she can belong to Britain as a recently naturalised British
citizen, Lina responded that, through her research, she has talked with many
British-born citizens who don’t feel they belong to or identify with Britain
today. It was a powerful and thought-provoking presentation and argument.
IRC member and Symposium organiser Dr Katerina Straniwas next, and she presented some thoughts on “Multicultural citizenship: Challenges and Opportunities”.
Katerina began by exploring the concept of citizenship as commitment to a specific polity and to a set of rights of obligations, which is why it is also connected to legitimacy (Bauboeck, 2010; Kockel, 2010). Such a commitment implies belonging, both in terms of a personal sense of belonging and in terms of ascribed belonging (from the state). Katerina used her own case as an example of a Greek citizen (she never misses an opportunity to talk about her hometown of Thessaloniki) who is also a Scottish citizen, voting for Scottish Parliament elections and for the Scottish Independence referendum in 2014. This citizenship-belonging nexus (Bauboeck, 2010) means that citizenship can never be culture-blind (Nic Craith, 2004; Habermas, 2005), and indeed the connection between culture and citizenship has been studied by sociologists, cultural studies and politics scholars. The profusion of new publics, diasporic and increasingly diverse, led to a reconsideration of citizenship not only from a multilingual, but also from a multicultural perspective. Kymlicka (2010) widely introduced the concept of multicultural citizenship in multination states, initially focusing on Canada. Kymlicka’s multinational and post-national approaches were discussed in Katerina’s talk, which led to a critical consideration of multiculturalism v. interculturalism v. polyculturalism in contemporary societies, where “culture is more important than ever” (Fukuyama, 2017). The Scottish case of civic citizenship was presented, together with the New Scots strategy, before concluding on the main challenges and opportunities of multicultural citizenship. Challenges include the need to recognise and thematise the liminality of migrant publics as part of culturally enriched hybrid publics (Strani, 2020 forthcoming); how to be more inclusive for those who “do not belong”, e.g. asylum seekers, or those participating in informal networks of “uncivil society” (Ruzza, 2009). The opportunities in societies where citizenship is multilingual and multicultural, and therefore people’s existence is legitimised through their commitment to certain values, include flourishing communities, a redefinition of ‘common interests’ and enrichment of public life.
Dr Emma Hill from the University of Edinburgh presented her research on ‘New’ Scots? (Re)Writing Somali Narratives in Scotland.
Emma’s paper offered a critique of the
narratives of ‘newness’ applied to people of Somali backgrounds living in
contemporary Scotland. Drawing on
research from her PhD
thesis and further archival work, Emma’s paper: (1) traced how
Somali people are discoursed as ‘New Scots’ and (2) argued that Somali
histories in Scotland in fact extend to the twentieth century. Connecting to ongoing discussions about
Scotland’s role in Empire and its mobilisation of race, Emma argued that the
erasure of Somali-Scots’ histories obscure Scotland’s colonial legacy, and
adversely impact Somali-Scots’ experiences of citizenship in Scotland today.
After a short coffee break, it was time for our keynote lecture by Dr Tuuli Lähdesmäki from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. The lecture was entitled ’Europe at a Crossroads: Cultural Heritage in the Creation of a European Narrative’
Postmillennial Europe has faced various
political, economic, social and humanitarian challenges and crises that
influence how Europeans deal with the past, present and future of Europe. These
challenges and crises have also shaken the foundations of the EU and
strengthened criticism of its legitimacy and integration processes.
Simultaneously, the ideas of European cultural roots, memory, history and
heritage have gained a new role in European politics and policies. The EU’s
increased interest in the European past and shared cultural heritage can be
perceived as the EU’s attempt to tackle some of these recent challenges and
crises – including identity crises – in Europe. How does the EU utilize the
idea of cultural heritage in the creation of a European narrative? How is the
idea of Europe constructed in the EU’s heritage policies and initiatives? The
lecture discussed these topics by using the most recent EU heritage action, the
European Heritage Label, as a case study.
We were honoured to welcome Dr Lähdesmäki
as our keynote speaker. Her thought-provoking case-study led to lengthy
discussions which went on during lunch.
After lunch, it was time for Dr Jennie Morganfrom the University of Stirling to present her talk, entitled “Grappling with ‘Profusion’: A Crossroad for Assembling Alternative Heritage Futures Through Museum Collecting”
Museums, Jennie argued, as with people in their homes, are increasingly faced with the ‘profusion predicament’. That is, the challenge of grappling not only with large quantities of material things, but seemingly infinite possibilities for choosing what might be acquired and retained for the future. Compounded by shrinking space in which to display and store it all, this leaves some collections staff asking if museums simply have ‘too much stuff’ to reasonably handle? This short provocation, grounded in ethnographic research undertaken in collaboration with University of York colleagues Professor Sharon Macdonald (project director) and Harald Fredheim (researcher), introduced key issues to the Symposium’s ‘crossroads’ discussions, including sustainability, collecting-futures, and heritage values. By briefly looking at what fuels the Profusion predicament, and a range of responses from museums (especially those tasked with collecting from the recent past and contemporary everyday life), Jennie’s fascinating paper prompted us to consider both the specific heritage futures that are shaping yet also being made by museum collecting in Scotland and the wider UK.
The heritage theme continued with IRC member Cait McCullagh, whose presentation was entitled “Weathering the storm: Heritage-making as learning for sustainability in uncertain waters”
Orkney and Shetland, Cait argued, were once central in international flows of people, goods and ideas. Now, their open economies, high youth out-migration, and ecosystems abraded by climate change indicate a precarity only further compounded by Brexit. Cait’s research explored Northern Isles inhabitants’ concepts of aspects of their heritages as ‘ecosystems of memory’, sustaining situated, resilient responsiveness in the face of such extrinsic uncertainties. The praxis, based on a co-curation mobilising ‘deliberative value formation’, elicits social learning concerning the usefulness of collaboratively, consciously deliberating heritage-making, identity-work and future assembling for learning about the formation of behaviours and decision-making in other socio-political processes. Cait also asked ‘what part does/can/should this sentimentality play within current value judgements?’
Moving on to ‘dark’ heritage and in particular Intangible Cultural Heritage, Prof Alison McCleery from Edinburgh Napier University gave a bold and thought-provoking talk on “Throwing light on a ‘dark’ side of Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) and its responsible management”
The concept of ‘dark tourism’ is these days increasingly well known, Prof McCleery stated. Less so the notion of dark ICH, with general perceptions of ICH reflecting a particular range of quaint, wholesome and apparently benign folk traditions, often rooted in rural communities. These largely reflect the domains of the UNESCO Convention on the ICH (2003) and are expected to be accessible to the general public, and increasingly also open to the tourist gaze. However, a range of living cultural traditions lies outside this consensual ideal implicit in both the UNESCO framework and its implementation by national and local agencies. Although not signed up to the Convention, and arguably just because of that, Scotland is not exempt from the increasingly challenging but nevertheless imperative responsibility of ‘policing’ its ICH. Prof McCleery’s presentation explored the complex challenges, for both agencies and academics as well as for ICH practitioners and for society at large, of managing often conflicting expectations in respect of examples drawn from this range of ‘controversial’ ICH in Scotland and beyond. The chair had to stop us from discussing Prof McCleery’s presentation because we were pressed for time, but the conversation on this fascinating topic went on during the coffee break.
Next up, IRC member Marc Romanopresented a paper entitled “Scottish national identity in an era of change, the power of movies and TV shows”
Following the Brexit referendum, the question of national identity and belonging was raised and challenged particularly in Scotland where their origins are strongly aligned with Europe. Marc’s paper explored the redefinition of contemporary Scottish identity through the use of movies and TV shows, using the newest film version of Mary Queen of Scots and Outlander as interesting case studies.
Last, but definitely not least, IRC
member Alastair Mackiepresented his research on “Becoming a smaller part of a larger
whole: new expressions of European identity in the Scottish independence
The EU referendum and the ensuing negotiations on Brexit have resulted in Britain entering a liminal phase of change without a foreseeable ending, Alastair argued. Within this transformational context, European identity is being understood in new ways and with new meanings. For some it is a defiant expression of connection: a root and a route to the rest of Europe; for others it is also an expression of disconnection between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom and is incorporated into the support for Scottish independence. Alastair’s presentation explored results of an ongoing PhD research project on the perception of European identity in post-Brexit Scotland with a particular focus on the relation between European identity and small state vulnerability.
After a short break, it was time for our round table discussion on The Impact of
Brexit in Scotland. The Moderator was Mrs Ann Packard FRSA
HonFRIAS, Chairman, RSA Fellows (i) Borders and (ii) Media, Creative
Industries, Culture & Heritage Networks.
Members of the panel were:
Luke Devlin (Heriot-Watt University)
Anthony Salamone (Scottish Centre of European Relations)
Dr Mairi McFadyen (Local Voices and the Scottish Centre for
Prof Ullrich Kockel (Heriot-Watt University)
Dr Cristina Clopot (Heriot-Watt University – University of
Svenja Meyerricks (Centre for Human Ecology)
The round table discussion brought useful insights from a range of disciplines interested in heritage, Scotland and Brexit. There was talk of liminality, uncertainty and loss at all levels. A dynamic redefinition of identity was also explored in the context of vulnerability and division.
After a long day of thought and discussion, it was time for our cultural event, kindly sponsored by the Heriot-Watt Confucius Institute. The event included:
A Chinese zither performance
A traditional tea ceremony
Our talented Confucius Institute colleagues gave our keynote speaker Dr Tuuli Lähdesmäki a paper-cut portrait to take home with her as a gift.