59°N – IRC PhD Student based in Orkney

by Cait McCullagh

Have you ever had the opportunity to peer at some of the many online depictions of Ptolemy’s 2nd Century AD Geography?  You’ll have had to turn your head to one side in order to take in the northern-most extent of Scotland, including the Northern Isles; bent over and squeezed to fit into the realm of what was then believed to be the ‘known world’?  The idea that anything might survive beyond the 59th parallel was, it seems, impossible to consider for Ptolemy and his Graeco-Roman counterparts and so they simply ensured that the Orcades and their farther flung partner archipelago, Ultima Thule (today’s Shetland), were snuck in below their true latitudes.

Perhaps you have also read recent press and social media reports of archaeological findings at the Ness of Brodgar, or even reviews of BBC Television’s Orkney: Britain’s Ancient Capital? Both proclaim aspects of the Islands’ heritage to be ‘weird’ and create the inference that there may be life in the far north, but ‘it’s not as we know it’. More making strange and a framing of the north as remote in culture as well as location.

In reality, experiencing life, and working, in the Northern Isles, does, indeed, require a re-framing of mindset.  For example: Edinburgh seems a terribly remote location from this centre, after all it takes me a car journey, a ferry, a train and another train and all in more than one day allows, to get to Edinburgh.  How does anyone down there cope with being so far from everything up here?  

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The view over the island of Hoy

 

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Kirkwall Harbour

Ah yes, the re-framing is welcome and it is enabling me to explore and research the ways in which being constrained as peripheral and, in some ways, ‘exotically traditional’ may actually inspire creative innovation.  I am already observing this in the ways that islanders are curating and developing their maritime heritage –  this being the topic that is significant for my PhD.  In an environment where the sea is always adjacent and imminent and where most people relate to the sea directly, each day, I’m also aware that this ‘heritage’ can be both past, present and future. It ullulates; an ongoing wave of cultural expressions; from the wrecked to being renewed boats, set adrift across the islands, to my own growing obsession with the Shipping Forecast as I plan field-tripping from one island to another.  The experience is rich and I hope this will be reflected in my research.  All this and next month: Shetland.  It’s a great privilege to be representing this northerly reach of the IRC, here at 59°N and counting!

Cait is  researching  Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland’s Northern Isles, an Applied Research Collaborative Studentship supported PhD, supervised in partnership across Heriot-Watt University, The University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for Nordic Studies and Shetland Museum and Archives.  She is based at the university’s Orkney Campus, the International Centre for Island Technology.

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Interior of the boat shed at Lyness on Scapa Flow

 

Moving Languages Project

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A mobile phone is proven to be a crucial tool for newly arrived migrants’ and refugees’ wellbeing and integration into their host country.

Dr Katerina Strani from LINCS is leading the UK team of the Moving Languages project. Moving Languages is a 27-month Erasmus+ project (2016-1-FI01-KA204-022678) led by Learnmera Oy in Finland. It has six partners in Finland, Sweden, Spain, Austria, Italy and the UK. The aim of the project is to develop a language app for newly arrived migrants.

Migration in the EU has been rapidly growing in recent times, especially in light of the troubled political situation in Middle Eastern countries. For this reason, it is of great importance to provide tools to support the integration of migrants and refugees arriving in Europe.

Language learning is one of the key priorities of successful integration. Mobile applications are an effective educational source that can be specifically designed for migrants and refugees, as a considerable percentage of them are digitally literate, own smartphones and are looking for new opportunities online in their host countries.

This project provides a gamified language-learning solution. It is available in English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish and the three languages most widely spoken by refugees/migrants in the partner countries. The application will not only help them to learn the local language(s), but it will also introduce them to new cultural concepts in their host countries.

Designed to cater to different levels of linguistic competence, this application will also be useful for people who have already been living and working in their new home country for some time. The content of the mobile application covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country. It contains 2,000-2,500 illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition. This free application will be available for download from all major app stores from June 2018.

The Moving Languages project started in September 2016 and it will finish in November 2018. For more information, please visit the project website http://movinglanguages.eu or contact Dr Katerina Strani.

Active learning at a World Heritage Site

by Cristina Clopot

At the end of November, LINCS students on the Global Heritage course, which is part of the MSc in Cultural Resource Management, went on a visit to the Edinburgh World Heritage Centre.

What better way to compliment academic learning than by a discussion with experienced professionals? Luckily enough we live and work in close proximity to several wonderful examples of World Heritage sites. The Old and New Town of Edinburgh have been part of the World Heritage list since 1995 and the main actor responsible with the management of the site is Edinburgh World Heritage Centre (EWHC).

The visit included a discussion at EWHC followed by an on-foot exploration of some of the UNESCO-protected area, led by EWHC Director, Adam Wilkinson.

In the first part of the visit, Mr. Wilkinson explained the approach to heritage embraced by EWHC in its ethos. Students explored different definitions and concepts of heritage, as well as their applicability. Building on our lecture discussions, we all debated values, meaning and memories, not just mere objects, and gained from the heritage professionals’ view.

The complexity of tasks a world heritage site management activity entails was  also presented through different projects. Several examples were provided to emphasise the numerous stakeholders that need to be consulted (and persuaded in some cases) to begin any conservation activities, from the various owners of flats in a heritage building, to the complex system of authorities and agents who need to agree to undertake restaurant façade change. Several projected activities were also presented and the key takeaway was the thoughtfulness for people’s interaction with the site, keeping the site alive but also potential improvements of life in a historic city. The rest of the visit was an on-foot exploration and discussion of projects developed in the Old Town. We are grateful to Edinburgh World Heritage Centre to have had the chance to present our students with this applied learning experience.

One of our students found food for thought in this visit to reflect on her own heritage:

https://thinkglobalheritage.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/edinburgh-world-heritage/

What about you ?

 

RADAR project update

The RADAR national workshops took place between April and June 2016. As part of Workstream 3, six national workshops were organised in the partner countries (Italy, Finland, The Netherlands, Poland, Greece and the UK) to test the training approach and material developed.

The UK workshop “From hate speech to hate communication: How racism is produced and reflected through communicative practices” took place on 16-17 June 2016 (16 hours in total) at the Esmée Fairbairn building in Heriot-Watt. The workshop, led by Dr Katerina Strani, with Rania Qussasi, Eloisa Monteoliva and Emma Hill, was intensive but very successful. Among the 28 participants were social workers, equality and diversity experts, police officers, project workers, volunteers, students and teachers. The first day included a short presentation of the project’s aims, followed by a session on terminology – unpacking salient terms. The discussion focused on the challenges of creating a vocabulary of ‘race’-related terms, as well as the concepts of whiteness, white privilege, racialisation and colourism. After lunch, we presented the findings of our interviews in terms of experiences of racism and hate crime. This was followed by a session on laws and judgments in the UK (mainly Scotland and England) related to racism, racial discrimination, hate crime etc. The second day was more hands-on and it consisted entirely of group work. The question of representation was probed during an analysis of written texts and newspaper articles, social media posts, advertising images and videos. The end of the workshop was marked with a round-table discussion on challenges with regard to the rise of hate communication and how to use what we have learned in the workshop in the workplace and everyday life.

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The workshop received very positive feedback and this was also a great networking opportunity for people working with migration, community relations, minority ethnic groups, xenophobia, racism or intercultural communication in general.

Next, the RADAR international workshop and final conference took place on 12-14 September in Perugia. Drawing on the knowledge and expertise gained from the local pilot events, the international workshop brought together all RADAR partners and their external experts for the purposes of drafting the general RADAR recommendations and guidelines as the final deliverable of the project. The UK team was represented by Katerina Strani with Rania Qussasi as the external expert. The final conference took place in Palazzo Donini, Regione Umbria, and was very well attended by academics and community representatives. It presented the RADAR project results and the draft guidelines, which were discussed at a round table. Katerina Strani  with Maria Fountana and Stavroula Sokoli presented a paper on “Attitudes to ‘race’ in the media: Evidence from the UK and Greece”. Katerina also presented 2 posters at the conference: i) with Emma Hill on “Critical ‘race’-related vocabulary in the UK” and ii) with Emma Hill on “AntiRacism and AntiDiscrimination Laws and Judgments in RADAR partner countries”.

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The 24-month project ends in November 2016. You can have a look at the project’s outputs so far if you register on the RADAR platform.

@RADARproject    #RADARproject

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Project-Radar-Just2013fracag6271-370112223154383/?ref=hl

Contact: Katerina Strani

 

The Manchester terror drill – and why we must stop linking Arabic with fanatics

This article was first published in ‘The Conversation’ https://theconversation.com/uk

by Máiréad Nic Craith

Greater Manchester Police staged a mock attack featuring a suicide bomber late on the night of Monday May 9. It began at the Trafford Centre shopping complex when a man in black walked into the centre of the main foyer and shouted “Allahu Akbar” – “God is great” – several times at the crowd. Moments later, an explosion rocked the food hall. The 800 volunteers dropped to the floor or ran into cafes and shops screaming for help, many of them made up to look as if they had horrific injuries.

The reaction has been largely negative, with many making the point that using the words “Allahu Akbar” reinforced the stereotype that terrorists are primarily Muslim. They rightly said that in reality, anyone can be a terrorist. By enforcing the Muslim stereotype, the exercise divided rather than united people and could increase anti-Muslim hate crime.

The police force was quick to put up a senior officer to respond. Stressing that “Allahu Akbar” was not scripted, he called the phrase “unacceptable” and apologised on behalf of the force since it “vocally linked this exercise with Islam”.

End of story? Actually an important point has been overlooked. The commentary has focused on the fact that the attack associated Islam and terrorism, but something else was associated with terrorism, too – the Arabic language. Spoken by an estimated 422m people, it is one of the most common languages in the world. Have we become so used to associating politics with particular languages that the matter is not considered exceptional or worthy of discussion?

UK connotations

This issue goes much wider than Arabic. Staying with the UK, other languages are associated with political ideologies, too. I worked in Northern Ireland for 11 years and could not fail to notice the political stereotypes around the Irish language. I worried that my beautiful Irish language name would generate the perception that my intentions were political – although friends assured me that given I was from the South, the issue did not arise.

Since the days of the hunger striker Bobby Sands, who taught himself and other fellow prisoners Irish in the H-Blocks, Sinn Féin has often been accused of politicising Irish. Linking Irish with political intent makes it uncomfortable for some people without nationalist aspirations to speak it in public.

Last year, for instance, the Belfast Telegraph columnist Claire Harrison wrote that she stopped her university course in Irish partly because of “a growing discomfort with a general assumption that I was a raving republican”.


Sinn Féin conference in Londonderry, Northern Ireland. Niall Carson

The perception that Irish is political has been greatly enhanced by politicians from non-nationalist parties seizing the opportunity to score a point at the expense of the Irish culture. Linda Ervine, a prominent unionist Irish-language speaker, last year accused Nelson McCausland of the unionist DUP of politicising the Irish language in exactly the same manner he claims republicans are guilty of. It’s not as if it has to be this way. Many of my friends in Northern Ireland who speak Irish on a regular basis do not associate it with politics and are motivated only by a love of Irish culture.

Over the Irish Sea in Scotland, we are seeing signs of something similar. In my recent TEDx talk on living heritage I noted that Scots has gained a new visibility and credibility as the culture has become more self-confident in the wake of the 2014 independence referendum. Pro-independence daily The National now features a weekly column in Scots, for instance. Yet the emergence of Scots cannot escape the political undertones. As the culture scholar Scott Hames wrote a few months ago, the “question of Scots is now becoming hyper-politicised in crude and distorting ways”. He argued that “national identity is undoubtedly part of the picture; but it needn’t be the whole picture”.

Many of us have heard the slogan that “a language is a dialect with an army and a navy”. Languages now considered “neutral” or “official” have often gained their visibility and credibility with the support of political structures – a fact often forgotten at the beginning of the 21st century.

So how to respond? The Irish-language activist Aodán Mac Poilín has suggested that, rather than attempting to depoliticise languages and break their link with specific communities, we should think about making them appropriate for many communities and in many spheres – multi-politicising them, if you will. With this in mind, it is good to read about the latest Arabic initiative in London, in which “Subhan Allah” (or “Glory be to God”) is appearing on posters on the sides of the red buses. This initiative by Islamic Relief is designed to change the negativity about Islam and foster understanding between different communities.


Sadiq Khan. Dominic Lipinski/PA

A few days ago, London elected its first Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan. The most recent winner of the Great British Bake Off was the Muslim Nadiya Hussain. With more events like these and fewer ill-conceived terror drills and such like, it raises the possibility of multi-politicising Arabic. Perhaps there will come a time when we don’t immediately think of terrorism when we hear the word “Allah”. Perhaps we might think instead about justice, human rights and good food.

Translating Cultures Peru / Traduciendo Culturas Perù

by Raquel De Pedro Ricoy

“Unequal exchanges: The role of Peruvian indigenous translators and interpreters in resource-exploitation consultation processes”

Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. 14:15-17:15, 12 April 2016

The Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) at Heriot- Watt University will host a symposium on the role of Peruvian indigenous translators and interpreters in consultations regarding the exploitation of natural resources. The symposium is open to the public. Registration is free, but places are limited. Please book yours  here.

Programme:

o Welcome

o Prof Rosemary Thorp (Peru Support Group): “Mining and the threat to indigenous communities”

o Mr  Agustín  Panizo  (Head  of  the  Indigenous  Languages  Division, Ministry of Culture, Perú): “Prior Consultation as a space for redefining communication  between the State and the indigenous peoples of Peru”

o Presentation by Dr Jan Cambridge (Chartered Institute of Linguists): “A code of conduct is the scaffold supporting ethical safe outcomes”

o Prof  Rosaleen  Howard  (Newcastle  University),  Dr  Luis  Andrade (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú) and Dr Raquel de Pedro

(Heriot-Watt University): Findings of the project “Translating Cultures: The legislated mediation of Indigenous Rights in Peru”

o Q&A session

The event will be followed by a drinks reception.

We look forward to seeing you there!

 

New plurilingual pathways for integration: Immigrants and language learning in the 21st Century” – Heriot-Watt University, 26th & 27th May 2016

Congratulations to Nicola Bermingham (Heriot-Watt University, Dept. LINCS) and Gwennan Higham (Cardiff University) for their success in the BAAL/Cambridge University Press 2015-2016 seminar competition.

The seminar, entitled “New plurilingual pathways for integration: Immigrants and language learning in the 21st Century”, will be held in Heriot-Watt University on 26th and 27th May 2016. This event will be co-hosted by COST Action IS1306 New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges and the British Association for Applied Linguistics and Cambridge University Press. The event will also be supported by the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies and the Intercultural Research Centre at Heriot-Watt University.

Professor Máiréad Nic Craith, Chair in European Culture and Heritage, Director of Research and Director of the Intercultural Centre at Heriot-Watt University will deliver a key note speech entitled “Migrants, Languages and Community Cohesion”, which will consider the implications of immigrant learners of minority languages looking in particular at the following questions: (1) how do such language practices impact on perceptions of migrants in host communities (2) what are the implications for community cohesion and (3) how do such choices impact on traditional speakers of minority languages in the host community.

Professor Alison Phipps, Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET) at the University of Glasgow will give a keynote presentation entitled “Language Labour and Language Resistance: On the demands of hosts on their guests”, which will consider the arts of integration through language learning and language policies in the host country and alongside this the arts of resistance and strategies for language and heritage language maintenance employed by migrant communities.

A round table discussion will also be held, addressing the ways in which immigration in the 21st century has lead us to challenge the way in which we think about minority language learning, integration and the notion of citizenship. Invited speakers to the round table discussion include Professor Bernadette O’Rourke, Chair of COST Action New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges who will discuss the research that is being carried out by the COST network, focusing specifically on issues of language, identity and social cohesion and Professor Diarmait Mac Giolla Chríost, member of the Research Unit on Language, Policy and Planning at the School of Welsh at Cardiff University who will contribute to the debate, drawing on his expertise on linguistic minorities and language planning.

While the two-day seminar will encourage interdisciplinary dialogue with a variety of papers from different migration and language contexts and cross-sector round table discussions, the proceedings will be directed by key themes and objectives as follows;

  • What are the opportunities and challenges for immigrants who learn new languages?
  • To what extent do immigrant speakers challenge current conceptions of integration, cohesion and citizenship?
  • Which steps or initiatives could facilitate a more comprehensive view of integration, cohesion and citizenship in national and minority language contexts?

A call for papers will be issued in the coming weeks. For more information or expressions of interest please see the event page (http://www.nspk.org.uk/our-events/upcoming-events/new-plurilingual-pathways-for-integration.html) or contact the organisers, Nicola Bermingham (nb199@hw.ac.uk) and Gwennan Higham (HighamGE@cardiff.ac.uk).

 

Translating Cultures and the Mediation of Indigenous Rights in Peru

Raquel

While we were all busy teaching, marking papers, setting exams, attending conferences and writing papers, Dr Raquel de Pedro Ricoy spent part of the first semester in the jungle. Literally.

Raquel is working on an AHRC-funded project entitled “Translating Cultures and the Mediation of Indigenous Rights in Peru” with Prof. Rosaleen Howard (Newcastle University) and Dr Luis Andrade (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú), in partnership with the Directorate for Indigenous Languages of the Ministry of Culture and the rural development agency SER. The project looks at new state-sponsored initiatives to facilitate better communication between the Spanish-speaking majority and speakers of the many Amerindian languages of the Andean highlands and the Amazon basin. The aim of the project is to research how far translation and interpreting, in contexts of mediation between the Peruvian state and its indigenous populations, can achieve the state legislated goals of upholding indigenous rights, while also sustainably developing the resource-rich territories where the indigenous populations live Ever since the Spanish conquest, Peru’s indigenous languages have lost ground to Spanish, which dominates all fields of formal communication and is seen as having greater prestige than the local Amerindian tongues. Indigenous people often suffer discrimination on linguistic as well as sociocultural grounds. However, this situation is gradually being reversed. Languages such as Quechua and Aymara in the highlands, and Asháninka and Shipibo in the rainforest, are spoken in schools and health centres, and bilingual indigenous people are becoming trained professionals in a variety of fields. Laws passed in 2011 make translation and interpretation a right, and the government is responding by translating the laws into the native languages as well as training bilingual indigenous people to be interpreters.

This is why Raquel spent two weeks in the high jungle town of Quillabamba,where the Ministry of Culture was running a training course for speakers of indigenous languages. As part of the project, Raquel and the rest of the teamobserved the training sessions, contributed to a panel on language rights and ran a workshop with the participants on the experience of translation. The trainees were speakers of: Matsigenga, an Arawak language; Harakbut a highly endangered language spoken by just 2,800 people in Madre de Dios department; and five different varieties of the Andean language Quechua. Raquel subsequently travelled to Pucallpa, in the Peruvian western jungle, where she interviewed community leaders who had used the services of interpreters in a consultation process facilitated by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. During her stay in Lima, Raquel delivered a plenary lecture at the XII International FIT Forum and joined government representatives and legal experts for a round-table discussion on legal translation and interpreting for indigenous languages.

The team is currently working on an article about the indigenous experience of translating indigenous rights law, involving translators in the difficult task of expressing western concepts such as ´rights´ and ´law´ in their own Amazonian and Andean tongues.

 

Research Report on New Irish Speakers launched

by Bernie O’Rourke

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On Friday 30th October, the Irish Language Commissioner, Rónán Ó Domhnaill, launched a Research Report on New Speakers of Irish.  The report was prepared by Heriot-Watt LINCS Professor Bernadette O’Rourke and colleagues Dr. John Walsh and Dr. Hugh Rowland of the University of Ireland, Galway.

This joint venture between Heriot-Watt University and the University of Ireland, Galway presents the results of research on the background, practice and ideologies of ‘new speakers’ of Irish. ‘New speakers’ are defined as people who regularly use a language but who are not traditional native speakers of that language. The report is based on research conducted in recent years by a network of European researchers titled New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe: Opportunities and Challenges under the auspices of COST (European Co-operation in Science and Technology). Prof O’Rourke is the Chair of the network which consists of some 400 researchers from 27 European countries.

What the research demonstrates is that anyone can become a new speaker of Irish or any other minority language, regardless of their language background. However, people need more support to become new speakers and the report makes specific policy recommendations which will help people make that transition if implemented.

‘The findings of our research on Irish have many parallels with other languages in Europe including Basque, Catalan, Breton, Galician, Welsh and Scottish Gaelic, and this report will provide invaluable insights into the broader opportunities and challenges that new speakers bring to a multilingual Europe. The recommendations we have made in relation to new speakers of Irish will feed into a broader set of recommendations at EU level and help identify a common framework of understanding and policy implications at European level’, said Prof O’Rourke. This report builds on other research conducted in Scotland on new speakers of Gaelic by O’Rourke, Professor Wilson McLeod and Dr Stuart Dunmore of the University of Edinburgh.

Ferdie Mac an Fhailigh, Chief Executive of Foras na Gaeilge (the body responsible for the promotion of the Irish language) welcomed the report and the importance of new speakers. The research will feed into recommendations on how best to support new speakers of the language in the future.

A copy of the report is available on the Foras na Gaeilge website.

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