Borderland identities

by Kerstin Pfeiffer

20170824_111942   

“Wie, Sie … äh… du weißt nicht wie Snapchat geht?” Three pairs of eyes fix me in complete disbelief. A part of me wants the floor of the rehearsal room to open wide and swallow me there and then. For the third time in less than two hours I am pleading age-related ignorance of this or that social media platform. And it is only day 1 of the workshop.

Catching up with 21st-century culture was an interesting by-product of my work with Čojč Theaternetzwerk Böhmen Bayern (http://cojc.eu/cs/), a Czech-German theatre network in 2017. The network organises bilingual theatre projects on both sides of the border, and I joined last year’s main project, Like/Hate, as a participant observer. For two weeks in August and September, Like/Hate brought together 20 young people aged 14 to 27 living Bavaria and Bohemia to create a theatrical performance centering on the influence of social networks on our thinking, behaviour, and the way we present ourselves to the world. My main reason for observing the project had less to do with the question how we conceive of performing the self in and through social media than with an interest in the participants’ real-life communication and interactions – with each other and with the audience.

In many bilingual youth projects along the German borders, pooling linguistic resources is considered one of the main strategies for facilitating intercultural dialogue and fostering cross-border relationships unencumbered (or at least less encumbered) by the baggage of historical differences between the Germans and their neighbours. Čojč projects are no exception but they go one step further in that they aim to create performances which are accessible to monolingual speakers of Czech and German alike by using a hybrid of Czech and German, Čojč, on stage. The network motto provides a good example of how this can work: ‘Mit divadlem theater hýbat grenzen hranicemi bewegen’. The word Čojč itself is a blend of from the Czech word for the Czech language, Česky, and the use of Czech spelling for the word [d]eutsch – [d]ojč, and in some senses, Čojč (the language) is the verbal manifestation of a strong sense of a distinct regional identity grounded in the historical and cultural particularities of the Bavarian-Bohemian border region that pervades the network.

The city of Plzeň

So how does the Čojč network use language(s) to express, negotiate and potentially transform (individual) identities? How do workshop participants communicate with each other? Which language do they use, when, and why? What are the effects of using a hybrid language on the audience? In other words, how is regional identity performed and how is it changed in and through performance?  And how do such performances integrate into contemporary discourses about the role of regions in responding to societal challenges within the EU? These were just some the questions that guided my observation of the devising process and the interviews I conducted with participants and network members. The larger framework for this research is the Horizon2020-funded project Critical Heritages: performing and representing identities in Europe (CoHERE) (https://research.ncl.ac.uk/cohere/) which investigates the socio-political and cultural significance of European heritages and their role in developing communitarian identities. My work with Čojč Theaternetzwerk Böhmen Bayern forms a case study within the project work package led by Heriot-Watt and the Latvian Academy of Culture focusing on cultural forms and expressions of identity in Europe (PI: Prof Ullrich Kockel).

20170825_100231 20170825_111611

Landmarks of Plzeň

Data analysis is still ongoing, but some main themes are already emerging. The first is the importance of liminal spaces in which borders – linguistic, cultural, political – and dichotomies are temporarily suspended a and in which the question of the contours of a particular cross-border identity can be explored and negotiated. The second concerns language use. For Like/Hate, some ground rules for communication were assigned top-down from the bilingual project leader team; more frequently, however, participants made their own decisions about how to communicate effectively with each other and  how to produce theatrical material that is accessible to monolingual speakers of Czech and German respectively. Bilingual cooperation relied quite strongly on translation in the devising and rehearsal process. Within that process, translation was conceived of from the outset as a collaborative activity – and a collaborative responsibility. While translation accountability was sometimes regarded as an unwanted or uncomfortable responsibility by the participants, it also holds the potential to become a vehicle for authority in the co-creative process. Moreover, the communication choices made by the participants clearly went beyond pragmatic concerns: they frequently reflected existing linguistic asymmetries. Or, in other words, German dominated the rehearsal room. These initial findings about communication choices suggest interesting parallels with other bilingual theatre workshops, such as Michael Richardson’s (Heriot-Watt University) investigations into BSL-English theatre. These will be presented as part of a comparative study at the upcoming conference of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS) in Hong Kong:

Pfeiffer, K., and Wurm, S., ‘(Un)Performing Barriers: A comparative  study of bilingual theatre in two inter-cultural spaces’, paper to be presented at 6th IATIS Conference, 3-6 July 2018, Hong Kong

Curious about Čojč and Like/Hate? Meet the participants and watch the project vlogs here: https://www.like-hate.com. Two of seven performances in Passau and Pilsen are also available as a livestream on the Čojč Land Network Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cojcface/.

Image.png

Performance: Like/Hate 
Photographer: Valentina Eimer
Photo taken on 25 September 2017 in Passau

 

 

 

 

IPCITI returns to Heriot-Watt after 4 years!

by Paola Ruffo

The Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot-Watt hosted the 13th International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting (IPCITI), 9-10 November 2017

IPCITI is an annual postgraduate conference organised by students for students and it marks the consolidation of the collaboration between Dublin City University, Manchester University, the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University. Its main aims are to promote greater participation in Translation and Interpreting research and foster a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment where research and academia can be accessible in real terms.

This year, the IPCITI 2017 Organising Committee (Jafar Ahmad, Nga-Ki Mavis Ho, Lorraine MacDonald, Michael Richardson and Paola Ruffo) has worked hard to welcome delegates from all over the world to Heriot-Watt and create a diverse and enriching programme, which included meaningful contributions across all areas of Translation and Interpreting Studies.

The conference started with a workshop by Mr Ramon Inglada (CTISS, Heriot-Watt University) on ’CAT Tools: welcome to the cloud-based (r)evolution’ followed by Dr Ana-Frankenberg Garcia’s (University of Surrey)  keynote on ‘The use of corpora in translation research’. Day two saw Interpreting research and practice join forces to discuss ‘Interpreting theory and practice in dialogue’ with a panel formed by Prof Graham Turner (CTISS, Heriot-Watt University), Prof Claudia Angelelli (CTISS, Heriot-Watt University), Mr Martin Gallagher (Police Scotland) and Ms Delphine Jaouen (NHS Scotland).

A variety of topics has been discussed by our international presenters over the course of these two days, covering diverse areas of T&I Studies such as translation and interpreting technologies, literary translation, interpreters’ training, British Sign Language interpreting, risk in translation, and news translation in relation to ideology and human rights.

To quote our Head of School, Prof Robert MacIntosh, who opened the conference: “We have a long heritage of Translation and Interpreting of which we are very proud” – this year’s successful and high-quality IPCITI drove that point home again.

You can follow The International Postgraduate Conference in Translation and Interpreting on twitter (@ipciti) and on the dedicated website www.ipciti.org.uk.

See you in Manchester for IPCITI 2018!

 

Erasmus in Madrid: the best year ever!

by Olivia Moran

My name is Olivia Moran and I’ve just started 4th year at Heriot-Watt.  I study in the LINCS department, on the MA (Hons) International Business Management and Languages degree.  I spent my third year studying in Madrid, at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas ICADE, and I can honestly say that it was the best year of my life.

ICADE has a reputation in Spain for being a prestigious university, and it was very different to any uni I’ve seen in the UK.  As it’s run by the Society of Jesus, the main building has a full size chapel and everything.  The professors were great – if they realised that you wanted to learn, they were super patient and willing to help you in any way they could.  The Spanish kids kept to themselves, but I made some great friends amongst the other Erasmus students.

To me, ICADE was more like being at high school than university: the classes were small, generally no more than 20/25 people, and the students were together throughout their four years there, which meant that they all knew each other well.  At first, I was intimidated by these small classes, but I quickly realised just how useful they would be.  The professors got to know us all very quickly, and we were given lots of opportunities to contribute and answer questions.  This helped my Spanish improve much more than if I had been a in a lecture hall with 200 people.

Erasmus students at ICADE can choose from a wide range of courses within the business school.  They also offer Spanish classes especially for the exchange students, which I found incredibly helpful – I managed to reach C1 level by the end of the year!  On the business side, I chose quite a few marketing modules, as that’s the industry I would like to work in when I graduate.  This was very useful, as I learnt a lot about the Spanish techniques, agencies and regulations, which in some cases differ greatly to those in the UK.   I also had the chance to study some quite unique modules – one of my favourite classes was Spanish Foreign Policy, as I love history and have an interest in politics.  It was also fascinating to see how government stances from 50 years ago are still influencing Spanish trade.

Picture4

It took me a while to get used to ICADE – there is no real campus, just a main building for the business and law students, so at times I did miss wandering round Heriot-Watt and admiring the loch, but it was a great opportunity to try something different.  It also means that I really appreciate Heriot-Watt’s beautiful campus now!

For me, the scariest part of the exchange was finding accommodation.  But as soon as I saw my flat, I knew it was meant to be.  My room was really bright, spacious and looked out onto a traditional little street.  I shared the flat with four Spanish girls who spoke no English.  I won’t lie, this was incredibly difficult at the beginning.  However, it was absolutely the BEST decision I could have made.  The girls were so friendly and patient, even with my stuttering Spanish.  That gave me the confidence to speak to them more, and now holding a conversation in Spanish doesn’t make me stress out anymore.  Even better, I’m still in touch with all the girls, which means that I can keep working on my conversational Spanish – when I go back to Madrid in October, I’m actually staying with them instead of forking out for a hotel!

I completely fell in love with Madrid during those 10 months.  I’m actually hoping to get a job there when I graduate – or somewhere in Spain at the very least!  There’s so much to do, whether you like art, history, culture or football.  I went to 10 (yes, ten) Atlético games (including Barcelona and Leicester), spent more hours in the Retiro reading books than I could even count, travelled to Portugal, France and the Netherlands and found so many great little bars and cafés along the way.

Picture1

Rowing around the boat lake in the Retiro is a must for anyone who visits.

Picture2

Sadly the Vicente Calderón is no more, but any Spanish football match is going to be good!

  Picture3

If you have Spanish flatmates, they WILL make you dress up for Carnaval.

You have to make the effort. If you’re willing to speak Spanish, people will welcome you with open arms and make you feel like a part of their community.

Erasmus can be the best year of your life. It was for me!

Call for abstracts: Multilingualism in Politics

by Katerina Strani

We are seeking abstracts of chapters to be included in an edited volume on Multilingualism in Politics. This edited volume aims to make a significant contribution to the area of multilingualism in politics. Starting from the premise that language influences the way we think and ultimately the way we argue (Whorf, 1956; Ervin, 1964; Koven, 1998 etc.), the book will address the nexus between multilingualism and politics in broad terms.

Multilingualism has always existed in society and politics at all levels; from the Ancient world, the Ottoman and Habsburg Empires, to 19th century France, to today’s Belgium, Switzerland, Canada, South Africa and other (officially) multilingual countries. In contemporary societies, multilingualism constitutes a key element of the social construction of public spheres. The link between multiple, and sometimes competing, languages in political argumentation and the ensuing questions of access, language status, language choice, translation and interpreting in political deliberation and decision-making are of paramount importance in contemporary politics. Linguists and political researchers have pointed out the tension between the multilingual reality and a monolingualist ideology in the way contemporary democracies function (Doerr, 2012; Granič, 2012; Pym 2013, Piller, 2016 and others). The proposed book seeks to address this in the context of contemporary socio-political developments, through multiple lenses: a sociolinguistics lens; a politics and cultural studies lens; a translation and interpreting studies lens; and finally, a language policy lens.

Against this backdrop, we seek chapter proposals that fulfil one or more of the following criteria:

  • the focus on multilingualism as a key element of the social construction of contemporary public spheres
  • the interdisciplinarity between languages and politics and, more specifically, the combination of sociolinguistics, cultural studies, language policy and translation & interpreting studies.
  • a wide scope, including not only empirical explorations on EU politics, but also local contexts of migrant and diasporic public spheres.
  • the combination of theoretical and empirical insights.

Specific topics may include (but not be limited to) the following:

* Discourse studies / CDA approaches to multilingual argumentation 

* Translating / interpreting ideology in political debate

* Minority languages in politics

* Deaf publics

* Relevant case studies from Europe 

* Relevant case studies from the rest of the world 

* Relevant case studies from migrant and diasporic public spheres 

* Relevant case studies of interpreted multilingual debates

The book proposal will be submitted to Palgrave, who have already expressed interest in it. The tentative publication date will be around the end of 2018 / early 2019.

Submission information:
Please send an abstract of 500-600 words (including 4-5 references, along with authors’ names, institutional affiliations, e-mails and a few words on each contributor) to the editor, Katerina Strani :  A.Strani@hw.ac.uk  

Deadline for submission: 16 October 2017. Authors will be notified within 4-6 weeks.

Complete chapters (8,000 – 9,000 words including references) of selected abstracts should be sent around July 2018.

Please feel free to disseminate the call to your networks of colleagues who may be interested in contributing to this volume.

We look to receiving your chapter proposals!