Roots and Routes of Germans in Contemporary Britain

by Ullrich Kockel

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On Deafhood Space

by Steve Emery

 

[English version]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Call for papers! Special issue on Signed Language Interpreting and Translation

Translation and Interpreting Studies

Special Issue

Signed Language Interpreting and Translation

CALL FOR PAPERS

Guest Editors

Laurie Swabey, St. Catherine University

Brenda Nicodemus, Gallaudet University

Translation and Interpreting Studies (John Benjamins) invites proposals for a special thematic issue on signed language interpretation and translation to be published in April of 2018.  The editors aim to bring together papers that address critical issues in the linguistic analysis of interpretations and translations that occur between a signed language and spoken or written language.

We welcome data driven papers on the spectrum between a microanalysis of one specific lexical item to the examination of a full interpreted or translated discourse. Papers may take a descriptive, applied, or theoretical approach to interpreting and translation of a signed language. We encourage a broad range of methodological approaches and theoretical frameworks, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods.

Suggested Topics (related to interpreting and translation):

  • –       discourse in specialized settings (e.g., legal, healthcare, education, politics, media, video)
  • –       interpreting for emergent signers
  • –       lexical gaps between signed and spoken languages
  • –       discourse structure and signing space
  • –       conversation analysis
  • –       figurative language and metaphor
  • –       message accuracy between source and target
  • –       effects of modality in linguistic production/reception
  • –       metalinguistics, semantics, and pragmatics
  • –       language use in interpreter/translator education
  • –       linguistic issues in trilingual interpreting and translation
  • –       the work of deaf interpreters and translators
  • –       linguistic issues in tactile and close vision interpreting

Timeline for Authors

Abstracts (400-500) words due to guest editors December 1, 2015
Decision on abstracts February 1, 2016
Submission of full manuscripts September 1, 2016
Decisions to authors February 1, 2017
Final versions of papers due August 1, 2017
Publication of special issue Spring 2018

Contact Information

Abstracts should be sent to both guest editors. If you have any questions, please contact Laurie Swabey (laswabey@stkate.edu) and Brenda Nicodemus (brenda.nicodemus@gallaudet.edu).

 

2nd Year General Linguistics Poster Session: Bridging the gap between UG and PG research

by Nicola Bermingham and Sara Brennan

A 2nd Year General Linguistics Poster Session took place on 18th and 19th February in LINCS. This was the first poster session for 2nd year General Linguistics students and the results were impressive, to say the least. This was part of the students’ assessment and the topics were chosen based on their General Linguistics lectures, but the event also worked towards bridging the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate research.

The posters addressed topics from a wide variety of geographical terrains, from Scots, Gaelic, and British Sign Language here in Scotland to language policy in Germany, France, Belgium, and Portugal. The students employed a range of methodological approaches, including qualitative interviews, surveys, questionnaires, and conversation analysis of audio-visually recorded data. They were also encouraged to produce original research while showing an understanding of existing literature and key theoretical concepts.

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The event was widely publicised and both members of staff and postgraduate research students from LINCS attended. This meant that students experienced the process of a poster session at a real academic conference, since they also presented their posters to the assessors and other staff in LINCS and then fielded questions about their research.

The result? Not just nice food and networking. Many of the students expressed a keen interest in further developing their topics and pursuing more advanced sociolinguistic research.

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A selection of posters is now on display outside the interpreting labs in Henry Prais building.

Special thanks to PhD students Nicola Bermingham and Sara Brennan from LINCS for organising a most successful poster session!

Ethnology Crossroads

Reporting back from Ethnology Crossroads Conference

by Prof. Máiread Nic Craith, Anna Koryczan and Cristina Clopot

Ethnology Crossroads was a two-day conference organized by the European Ethnological Research Centre in collaboration with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, held on December 5-6th in Edinburgh. The aim was to assess the current state of ethnology in Scotland but also discuss its possible future. This discussion was rounded over the publication of the 14th and last book from the Scottish Life and Society – A Compendium of Scottish Ethnology series and was dedicated to the memory of Alexander Fenton. The list of speakers of the day included two LINCS professors, Máiréad Nic Craith and Ullrich Kockel, and a couple of LINCS students in the audience.

Ethnology as seen and practiced by young academics

The second panel of the conference featured young ethnologists, who are either working on a PhD thesis or are aiming to start one in the future. Fascinating projects were presented by three speakers in connection to the umbrella theme of the panel ‘Ethnologists in the Community’.

The first speaker, Ella Leith, a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, reasoned for recognition of Deafness as a cultural rather than a medical issue. In this context, she tried to raise awareness of Deaf disempowerment in higher education as well as to make a clear distinction with regard to ways the society engages with deaf communities, that is, through either taking a stance of ‘deaf wage’ or ‘deaf heart’. Concluding her talk, Ella urged ethnologists to take social responsibility towards minorities they study.

The second speaker, Alistair Mackie, an MSc student at the University of Iceland, spoke of his undergraduate project on the question of European identity in the context of multi-cultural Balfolk events. Alistair’s findings revealed that participants’ perceptions and attitudes towards such cultural encounters vary significantly, thus mirroring the diverse standpoints on European identity.

The third speaker, Carley Williams, a PhD student at the University of Aberdeen, gave an overview of her research project, which deals with the practice of safeguarding intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in Scotland, in the context of UNESCO 2003 Convention. In her research, Carley aims to develop recommendations that will help to empower and support practitioner communities, ensuring at the same time viability and sustainability of their ICH as a living tradition.

Ethnology of the 21st century – an engaged science reaching high

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The young scholar session was followed by a discussion between Dr. Gary West and LINCS Prof. Máiréad Nic Craith, designed as a freeform talk. Moving the discussion from ethnology in Scotland towards the broader European setting, the conversation assessed the current state of ethnology. Building up on the conclusions of the previous panel, the two academics discussed about the type of ethnology a researcher might strive for today, when the discipline is at a ‘crossroads’ moment. Far from being parochial, this ethnology is a lively area that includes both rural and urban areas, labelled as ‘engaged ethnology’. It is also led by daring objectives, as marked by the leitmotif of the day, ‘why not’, urging researchers to go further than the journal article to support change.

Other subjects were brought in as well, related to the topics of ethnological research. The ‘power of culture’ to divide but also to bring people together was among these topics, as well as heritage. Taking an example from material culture of a built environment, a suggestion was made to consider narratives of people, the stories and emotions they invest in these structures. Prof. Nic Craith argued for an inclusive consideration of the tangible and intangible aspects of heritage in a research projects, and together with Dr. Gary West highlighted the fact that U.K. has managed to build on its intangible heritage (ICH) better than other countries and that it might benefit from exposing this experience in the larger setting of international discussions around ICH. Ethnology’s role, in this case, is to help safeguard traditions.

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The final session looked at the issue of ethnology tomorrow and was chaired by Professor Edward Cowan. The panel included Prof. Andrew Blaikie, Prof. Ullrich Kockel, Dr. Mairi McFadyen and Prof. Stana Nenadic. The two ethnologists (Kockel and McFadyen) were passionate about the potential of ethnology to address issues in the 21st century and set the subject in the context of Patrick Geddes‘ approach to ecological, social and cultural development. While not ethnologists themselves, the other two speakers highlighted the relevance of ethnology for historians and drew many parallels between history and ethnology.

Pushing ethnology further

In line with one of the aims to reach further, the lively discussions of the day were not accessible only in the closed setting of the conference, but were opened to a larger audience through live tweeting. All resulting tweets are now available in this Storify feed.

With so many avenues opened and encouraged by the state of enthusiasm felt by participants, it was suggested that these ideas might actually be starting points for a longer discussion to be carried further in a series of meetings/potential events.

Russian Old Believers in Romania – Heritage Highlights

by Cristina Clopot

‘What is the future of the past?’ asked Christina Cameron, a prominent researcher within heritage studies, and she was not the only researcher to ponder on this question. An increased awareness of the richness of past inheritance is not directly linked with recipes to take these forward to be enjoyed by the next generation and to counteract globalisation backlash. Moving the discussion beyond internationally recognised ‘items’, with the trademark of ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, towards smaller communities, the question becomes even more intricate. It is in this precise small area dealing with the heritage of small-scale, minority communities that Cristina Clopot’s research fits in. And the question mentioned at the beginning of the article is central to Cristina’s PhD project centred on Russian Old Believers in Romania.

Old Believers have migrated from Russia in the XVIIth century to escape religious persecutions. They opposed the religious transformations of the Russian Orthodox Church insisting on keeping their centuries-old belief. Old Believers communities exist throughout the world (in places such as Canada, the U.S., New Zealand, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), however, Cristina’s research is focused on Romania. A small community of about 23,000 people, the Old Believers (Lipovans as they are called in Romania and Moldova) represent one of the 18 officially recognized ethnic groups within the country.

In a country marked by increased globalisation and rapid transformations in the post-socialist period this community has managed to preserve its rich cultural heritage.

Cristina’s research thus engages with Lipovan heritage, both tangible and intangible. The two types of heritage are in a ‘symbiotic relationship’, as an UNESCO representative pointed out.  Themes such as continuity and innovation, authenticity or sustainability will be explored within this project through ethnographic methods. The research project is supervised by Prof. Máiréad Nic Craith, Chair of European Culture and Heritage and Prof. Ullrich Kockel, Professor of Culture and Economy, and fieldwork is carried with the help of Estella Cranziani Post-Graduate Bursary for Research.

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Old Believers Church (image taken by the author)

Part of Old Believers’ tangible heritage, churches, with arched domes and 8 cornered crosses exist in different areas of Romania, predominating however, in the eastern side of the country, where large communities of Lipovans reside.  Old Belief is a form of Orthodoxy, close to the Greek form of Orthodoxy, yet with essential differences: e.g. different way of crossing, or the use of Slavonic. Religion is still important for the community today as reflected by the numerous icons encountered in diverse houses and locations I have visited in Romania.

Clothing is another distinct element of their heritage. Once worn every day, traditional dressing is now mostly seen in religious services. The shirt (‘rubashka’) tied with a braid (‘pois’) or the colourful long skirts worn by women are part of the specific landscape in an Old Believer community.

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Borsch festival within a community of Old Believers in Romania (Source: Jurilovca village Facebook page)

Apart from crafts related to clothing, boats or house building, iconography is another axial craft within the community. Icons play a central role for the practice of Orthodoxy, acting as messengers between believers and the ‘divine prototype’ they represent. Lipovans have carried this craft from Russia with them and have passed it on from generation to generation.

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Image from an Old Believers Church (taken by the author)

‘What is the future of the past?’ remains thus an open question for this community and an interesting challenge to answer within this research project.