Intercultural Research Centre Symposium 2019

By Katerina Strani and Chiara Cocco

Photo courtesy of Stefan Schäfer, Lich (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons *

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 Lähdesmäki on 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 in bagpipes; 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 whole.

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 Fadel presented “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 Strani was 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 Morgan from 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.

After a coffee break, it was time for David Francis, Director of Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland (TRACS) to present his paper on “Traditional Music as Heritage”.

David explored a paradox of the heritage discourse – that, on the one hand, the designation of an aspect of nature or culture as ‘heritage’ is a form of ‘enclosure, commodification and colonisation’ (Weber 2015), and, on the other, a means by which access is enlarged. Since the folk revival of the second half of the twentieth century greater access to traditional music in Scotland has seen it become a creative resource and a source of meaning for many, but also a point of tension, in terms of uses of heritage, between those whose main interest is in preservation and authenticity and those whose main interest is its possibilities for personal artistic statement. David also paid tribute to Jimmy McBeath, when reflecting on the conflict between authenticity and cultural appropriation. We listened to a short song by Jimmy McBeath during David’s presentation.

Next up, IRC member Marc Romano presented 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 Mackie presented his research on “Becoming a smaller part of a larger whole: new expressions of European identity in the Scottish independence movement”

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 Geopoetics)

Prof Ullrich Kockel (Heriot-Watt University)

Dr Cristina Clopot (Heriot-Watt University – University of Hull)

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

Chinese calligraphy

Whose name is this? Answers on a postcard! 🙂

Chinese paper-cutting

Our talented Confucius Institute colleagues gave our keynote speaker Dr Tuuli Lähdesmäki  a paper-cut portrait to take home with her as a gift.

We tweeted throughout the event using the hashtag #IRC2019 – however we soon noticed that we shared this with the equally successful International Rubber Conference Organisation that was taking place on the same day J

Until our next IRC Symposium in 2021 !

DESIGNS Project : Wrapping up

By Audrey Cameron & Jemina Napier 

May 2019 

In this blogpost, Jemina Napier and Audrey Cameron provide an update on the work that has been done on the DESIGNS project (promoting access in employment for deaf sign language users in Europe) since our last blog/vlog in October 2018.

The project is coming to an end on 30 June and most of the work in the past 6 months has been focusing on developing training materials, running pilot workshops for employers, sign language interpreters and deaf people and disseminating the project data:

Training – workshops

2018.11.08    Employers’ workshop in partnership with Vercida in South Bank                                           University

2018.12.07    Sign language interpreters’ workshop in Antwerp, Belgium – DESIGNS team

2019.03.05    Masterclass workshop for deaf people, sign language interpreters and employers – in partnership with Deaf Action and Deaf2Work in Deaf Action, Edinburgh

2019.03.27    Employers’ workshop in Heriot-Watt University

2019.04.27    EDSU & CDY’s ‘Studying your way into employment’ seminar in Prague, Czech

Dissemination

2019.02.23    Deaf Spaces in the Workplace conference in York St. John’s University, York – organised by Dr Dai O’Brien and other speakers were Dr Nicola Nunn of UCLAN and Mette Sommer of Heriot-Watt University https://youtu.be/mKWhTV29CP8

2019.03.05    EdSign lecture in University of Edinburgh

2019.04.09    Employment of sign language users in Europe – Policy & Practice Implications at European Parliament – hosted by Helga Stevens – to present project research findings – Adam Kosa MEP  and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion (developing EU strategy for employment for disabled people). 

Up to the end of June, we are continuing to finalise the training materials and filming case studies for the DESIGNS project website.  The next update is due in June where we will introduce the finalised material.

Below is an English translation of the update that is presented in BSL.

Hello! (both)

Jemina: We’re here to give you an update on the DESIGNS Project, which is to do with deaf employment and interpreting. The last project update was November last year, so we thought it was high time we let you know what we’ve been doing over the last 6 months.

Audrey: … yes, we’ve got a lot to tell you.

Jemina: We’ve got a number of things to cover so we’ll alternate between us. So, the first thing to say is that we’ve been out there delivering a lot of training sessions – sorry I need to refer to my notes here to remind me of everything we’ve done…..  Audrey and I went down to London to run a training session for employers in partnership with an organisation called Vercida, who encourages employers of large organisations to recruit disabled people and embrace diversity; when larger organisations are looking for advice about how develop a more diverse workforce, Vercida are the people they go which also makes them a perfect fit for fits perfectly this project.  Vercida helped us find three employers but we were hoping to have more but really this session was more of a pilot.

As part of the DESIGNS Project, we interviewed employers, deaf sign language users and interpreters and we shared our research findings with those employers so that if they were looking to recruit deaf people they would have an idea of what it’s like and we could see that they found that really useful. From the evaluation at the end there were clearly things they hadn’t known about deaf people and interpreters, so they definitely found the session helpful.

We used that session to help us to develop another Master Class that we delivered here in Edinburgh in partnership with Deaf Action, which is a local deaf community organisation based in Edinburgh. We developed and ran this in conjunction with their employment service and interpreting service and some other people from here at Heriot Watt…

Audrey: … and from Deaf2Work…

Jemina: … yes Tony Barlow, who is a deaf employment consultant has a company called Deaf2Work so we all worked in conjunction with one another deliver this Master Class. What was really interesting was that we had a group of employers (some of whom had experience of working with deaf people and some who didn’t); a group of interpreters and a group of deaf people.  We started the day together and then spit into our respective groups and we tailored the content accordingly. Then we all came back together to watch a role play of an interview involving an interpreter, a deaf person and an employer and that was fascinating and generated a lot of valuable discussion.

Interpreters’ session
Employers’ session
Deaf participants’ session

… Audrey and I were also involved in delivering a training workshop with the rest of the consortium over in Antwerp for a group of about 40 sign language interpreters from all over Europe (both deaf and hearing) with some having travelled some considerable distance to get there. We presented a lot of the findings from the DESIGNS Project plus again using roleplays, we gave to them an idea what it’s like interpreting for job interviews. That was really interesting and a good experience…

Audrey: … a lot of them wanted to know how to work with deaf people at job interviews which was clearly a worry for them and I think the training was really useful in that respect.

Jemina: So altogether that’s 4 training events we’ve delivered and even more recently Audrey went to the EDSU The European Deaf Students conference in Prague…

Audrey: … yes…

Jemina … and ran a workshop on the DESIGNS Project at which she talked about deaf employment, creating a CV and the barriers deaf people face around employment. This was for students all of whom are currently studying at University level and starting to think about their career path… that was a two hour workshop…

Audrey: … two and a half hours

Jemina: … so another two and a half hours linked to the DESIGNS Project which is good. That’s those 4 different training workshops covered. Ok, now I’ll hand over to you Audrey…

Credit to EDSU

Audrey:   Jemina and I have not just been focusing on training; we’ve also been out there disseminating the data and the findings from the DESIGNS Project. Since November we’ve attended a number of events. The first was in York at St John’s University, which was organised by Dai O’Brien who’s been doing research on what employment for deaf people is like in Higher Education. I, along with Mette Sommer (who is a PhD student here at Heriot Watt) and Nicola Nunn for UCLAN also gave presentations and incorporated our experiences of working in that environment with interpreters. That was a good conference and there were a lot of people there…

Jemina:… and lots of questions and a great deal of interest in the project.

Audrey:   Jemina and I have not just been focusing on training; we’ve also been out there disseminating the data and the findings from the DESIGNS Project. Since November we’ve attended a number of events. The first was in York at St John’s University, which was organised by Dai O’Brien who’s been doing research on what employment for deaf people is like in Higher Education. I, along with Mette Sommer (who is a PhD student here at Heriot Watt) and Nicola Nunn for UCLAN also gave presentations and incorporated our experiences of working in that environment with interpreters. That was a good conference and there were a lot of people there…

Jemina:… and lots of questions and a great deal of interest in the project.

Audrey: … they were very keen to have the training pack that will help people get into work and that’s one of the aims for the project …

The second dissemination event was back in March where we’d been invited to present at one of the ‘EdSign’ series of lectures at the University of Edinburgh which are run by four universities – Queen Margaret University, Heriot Watt and Edinburgh… that’s only three isn’t it Jemina?! … sorry it’s three not four! So as I said they invite different speakers to come along and we presented for a couple of hours… or was it an hour?

Jemina: … about an hour…

Audrey: … for a hour and that went well. It was also live streamed; we’ll put the link up so you can watch our presentation if you’re interested. 

Link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PtBj16gxjQw&feature=youtu.be

… and thirdly we were recently at the European Parliament – Helga Stevens who is deaf and an MEP hosted an event at which she invited us to share the our findings from the DESIGNS Project. We were able to present these to MEPs and the Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion came along to listen and I think he soon realised the need to deliver better access to employment and that was good… that was in April.

Jemina: Really that was the last ‘official’ event of the DESIGNS Project because now we’re starting the process of bringing things to a close and finishing off.

We held the last project meeting the day before the event at the European Parliament. All the other project partners gathered together to work out what we still had left to do and to make sure we tidied up any loose ends and then the next day we were at the parliament.

Audrey: But we’re not finished just yet. The report still has to be written and we are filming case studies with employers, deaf people and interpreters for the website and what else…? And then working on the training pack which will also be put up on the website. Then, when absolutely everything is done we’re going to have another Facebook livestream where we’ll be showing you what resources we’ve got and that will be soon – when do you think that will be Jemina?

Jemina: … probably later in the year. Here at Heriot Watt, the project officially ends at the of June; after that we’ll have a few things to tidy up and unfortunately that’ll mean Audrey and I will no longer be working with one another on the project… but who knows maybe we’ll get to work again on something in the future… we’ll see… 

Audrey: But this project has been so worthwhile doing…

Jemina: There will also be more information coming out in BSL – for example, there will be a BSL version of the summary of the research report and summaries of some of the training materials Audrey mentioned so we’ll be back with more information about those another time.

Bye!

InterTrainE Newsletter: May 2019

Welcome to the second newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Intercultural Training for Educators (InterTrainE). The 26-month project (2018-2020) is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies.

InterTrainE includes 7 partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Italy and Greece) and aims to develop an intercultural training programme for educators teaching adult migrants.

The partners are:

Specifically, the project develops 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 MOOC.

Multiplier Events will take place in each country in 2020 (watch this space for details!).

A Joint Staff Training Event will take place in Rethymnon, Crete, in March/April 2020, where the partners will test the curriculum and training materials before these are finalised and presented at the Final Dissemination Conference in Edinburgh in September 2020.  

Our 2nd project meeting took place in Matera on 11-12 April 2019
Matera is European Capital of Culture 2019!

Partners met at Studio Risorse‘s offices and discussed:

  • the recommendations from Outputs 1 and 2 (Needs analysis on Intercultural Training for Educators of Adult Migrants). More than 250 educators and learners took part in the research for these outputs, which aimed to identify existing needs on intercultural training for educators of adult migrants in the partner countries.
  • the external evaluator’s feedback. The external evaluator for the project, Dr Jim Crowther, Senior Lecturer in Community Education, University of Edinburgh, participated in the meeting, gave extensive feedback on Outputs 1 and 2 and recommendations for the next stages.
  • curriculum development and the design for Output 3
  • the project website and Moodle (Output 4)
  • dissemination and social media update
  • progress report for the funder due in May

 The full agenda of the meeting can be found here.

Monica Miglionico from Studio Risorse proposing a curriculum structure
Valeria Zampagni from Il Sicomoro proposing a curriculum structure
The project’s external evaluator, Dr Jim Crowther, is giving us feedback and useful recommendations for the next stages of curriculum design and course development

Progress – Curriculum design

For information on O1 and O2, please see our previous newsletter as well as our website, where you will be able to download the relevant reports.

We have agreed on a curriculum structure for Intellectual Output 3 (O3). The curriculum for our Intercultural Training course will be designed in a modularised form and translated into the partners’ languages (Finnish, Italian and Greek) by July 2019, after which the relevant O3 report will be published on our website.

Course materials

Each partner will develop course materials which will be adapted according to local needs (see recommendations in national reports for O1 and O2). These course materials will constitute Output 4 and they will be online in the form of a Moodle by April 2020.

In the meantime, Multiplier Events will be organised in each country (UK, Italy, Greece, Finland) to test the material before they are live on the project platform / Moodle.

March/April 2020 will also see the project’s Joint Staff Training Event will take place in Rethymnon, Crete.

Project website and social media accounts

Our project website 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:

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram

Follow us on Research Gate  

Our next newsletter will be out in October 2019. Stay tuned!

Next project meeting

12-13 September 2019
Helsinki, Finland

Contact

For any questions or comments, please contact the project coordinator:

Dr Katerina Strani

Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

Henry Prais Building

Heriot-Watt University

Edinburgh EH14 4AS

UK

Tel: +44 131 451 4216

A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

Reporting from SIEF 2019

by Alastair Mackie, LINCS/IRC PhD student

A group of colleagues from the IRC participated in the biannual conference of SIEF, the International Society of Ethnology and Folklore, in Santiago de Compostela, in April 2019. The theme of the conference was “Track Changes: Reflecting on a Transforming World”.

The conference had a very welcoming atmosphere, despite the sheer size of it. Although I have only been working on my research for just over a year, there were several familiar faces present and I quickly felt at home. Amongst those attending there was a large delegation from Scotland, not only from the IRC but also many from the Elphinstone Institute in Aberdeen. For it really being a small country, it always surprises me how many ethnologists there are in Scotland. Discussing our work with peers from nearby and far away is always rewarding. For me, these are the most valuable experiences of such a conference, more so than the presentations I attend.

The IRC had a very strong presence in SIEF 2019, as was the case in past conferences. We presented a large variety of research using different methods.Chiara Cocco presented a paper on “Pilgrimage as a means of memory of dark heritage: the case study of Misija Sibiras in Lithuania”. This paper focuses on the expeditions to Siberia organized by the Lithuanian organization Misija Sibiras (Mission Siberia). Chiara interprets these journeys as secular pilgrimages through which young Lithuanians commemorate their past and deal with the painful heritage of their country.

Cait McCullagh presented a paper on Tracking futures at 60 Degrees North – co-curation across Orkney and Shetland: collaboratively deliberating praxis, value formation and learning for sustainable development”. Based on ethnography and practice-based research in Scotland’s Northern Isles, this paper considers a performative praxis of co-curating maritime heritage-making as future assembling, deliberative value formation, elicitive of social learning for sustainable development in vulnerable environments.

Naomi Harvey presented a paper on “The Scotland’s sounds’ network: exploring the participatory role of sound archives in continuing traditions.” The paper discussed the ‘Scotland’s Sounds’ network of sound collections, exploring how this ‘distributed archive’ model functions through participatory work across the sound archive sector, and looking at how increasing access to archives has an impact on the practice of cultural traditions.

Kerstin Pfeiffer chaired and co-convened the panel “Through the lens of affect and emotion: exploring the potentials [SIEF Working Group on Body, Affects, Senses and Emotions (BASE)]” with Jonas Frykman from Lund University. This was the most popular panel of the conference, with 30+ abstracts submitted, and spin-off panels created as a result.

“Ethnologists and folklorists employ a range of perspectives when probing different aspects of socio-cultural phenomena related to the body, affects, senses and emotions. Rather than constituting a field in its own right, their research engages with and enriches established research areas. This panel continues to explore the creative potential the perspective has brought to research areas discussed at previous BASE working group meetings, like migration, sports, material culture, religious practices, theatrical performances, music, dwelling and so on. What are the most rewarding outcomes? In how far are they innovative in the context of a particular research field? How do they fill the gaps in the existent understandings of particular phenomena, notably those engaging body and senses? Which difficulties do resarchers encounter when trying to apply this lens to the existent ethnographic and folkloristic data? In what way does it change the ways we engage in ethnographic work and does it allow for establishment of novel fieldwork-based epistemologies? We welcome proposals for papers that deal with historical and contemporary materials, old and and new topics, original fieldwork or archived material, However, by clearly addressing the questions noted above, the papers should focus on exploring the creative potential – as well as the challenges – presented by the lens of affect and emotion. “

Session 1

Paradise lost: inheriting the summerhouse. Jonas Frykman (Lund University).

Emotion and its role in ethnicity creation within Konkani community, Kochi, India. Alina Kaczmarek-Subramanian (The Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology PAS).

Doing the festival. Making the city and region into sensual places. Connie Reksten (Western Norway University).

Understanding affective strategies and counterstrategies: examining political emotions as cultural practices. Monique Scheer (University of Tuebingen).

Navigating the ocean of suspicion: affective politics and materiality in Cairo. Cairo. Maria Frederika Malmström (Lund University / Columbia University).

Session 2

Affective integration: conceptual and empirical contributions of the lens of affect to migration research. Maja Povrzanovic Frykman (Malmö University).

Affective practices of unemployment. Tytti Steel (University of Helsinki).

Body in traditional costume – new approach to traditional costume research. Maria Gacic (Museum of Dakovo Region).

 Sensual engagement in sports: researcher’s and actants’ emotional involvement and the productive use of emotions in and of the field. Yonca Krahn (Universität Zürich).

Marc Romano presented a paper on “Digital Media, a tool to redefine a contemporary Scottish Identity”. Following the Brexit referendum, the question of national identity and belonging wa raised and challenged particularly in Scotland where their origins are strongly aligned with Europe. This paper explores the redefinition of contemporary Scottish identity through the use of digital media.

I presented a poster on “New meanings of European identity in Scotland”. The poster presents results of my 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.

This was my first poster, a medium I was unsure off at first but came to appreciate more when it started to function as a billboard for my research, present throughout the conference. For two of my fellow doctoral students, Chiara Cocco and Marc Romano, it was their first time presenting at an international conference. All presentations were very well received and followed by useful discussions with an interdisciplinary audience.

I also attended some excellent presentations. The closing event started with a fascinating keynote by professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett on the POLIN Museum of the history of Polish Jews, of which she is the Chief Curator. This was followed by a roundtable entitled ‘Listening to objects’, in which three established academics, Regina Bendix, Dorothy Noyes and Sharon Roseman, presented an object (for example a strand of hair or a pot) which seemed bland at first, but about which each of them had a fascinating and often hilarious story to tell. The keynote lecture by Professor Tim Ingold, entitled ‘Strike-through and wipe-out: tactics for overwriting past’ provided much food for thought.

During the opening of the conference we were encouraged to take part in at least one panel which did not relate to our research, just for fun and to expand our horizons. For me, this was a panel on cuteness: a concept I hadn’t really considered before (apart from the occasional cat video) but which was fascinating. In particular, the presentation by Professor Irene Stengs from the Meertens Institute on the King of Thailand’s cute cartoons was thought-provoking.

Beside the interesting panels and discussion, we also find time to explore Santiago de Compostela and to experience the local cuisine. I was a particular fan of pulpo (octopus), a local delicacy which somehow also became our team mascot.

You can check out #SIEF2019 on Twitter for more details, and in particular #team_hwu_irc

** Our colleague Katerina Strani found pulpo on the window of high-street shop Anthropologie on George Street in Edinburgh. Clearly it is not only us who think an octopus is the perfect mascot for our discipline!

LINCS welcomed once again the pupils from Larbert High’s School of Languages

By Fanny Chouc

As part of this long-standing cooperation, S1 to S4 pupils visit campus several times a year and get a chance to consolidate their French and Spanish, but also to broaden their knowledge and understanding of languages and cultures.

This scheme was initially set up as a collaborative project to work towards the implementation of the government’s 1+2 policy, and it’s one of the many innovative ways in which LINCS engages with local communities in order to inspire young generations of learners. The project was initiated by Mr Meikle, one of LINCS’s graduates, who is now Depute Rector at  Larbert High, and it has been beneficial to both institutions: young learners with a taste for languages get a chance to further their skills by working with native speakers and talented university students, while discovering our campus, and Heriot-Watt students and Erasmus students and interns get a chance to share their culture and passion for languages, whilst gaining some valuable teaching experience. This collaboration has benefited our graduates and students further, as Larbert High has welcomed some of them as volunteers for some shadowing and classroom experience, like Mrs More. She has been accompanying the groups to her alma mater and this experience enriched her CV; she’s since secured a place on a teacher training postgraduate programme of studies.

So what do pupils do when they visit LINCS?

They engage in a range of activities geared both towards practice, with applied classes in French and Spanish related to their curriculum, but since LINCS is a also very global department, with expertise in multilingualism and multiculturalism, we use the in-house expertise to broaden these young linguists’ horizons.

For instance, during their latest visit, S2 and S3 pupils got an insight into British Sign Language learning, thanks to two of our Honours students from the BSL degree in Interpreting, Translation and Applied Languages Studies. Lou and Louise explained how they came to study this language, how the learning experience is designed and the skills they developed along the way, and pupils’ curiosity was clearly peeked: they asked questions about the language, but also about the deaf community and culture.

Thanks to our Erasmus + intern from Mons University, Nathanaël Stilmant, these two groups also discovered another French-speaking country, Belgium. As part of this session, very much focused on the multilingual nature of this country, pupils also had a chance to learn some Dutch and Walloon.

S4 pupils, who are already thinking of exams, worked on their Spanish with two of our Honours students: Simon and Rachel devised activities around their curriculum, but also shared anecdotes about their experience as students at Heriot-Watt and as Erasmus students abroad, since the M.A. includes two semesters of study in one of our partner institutions on the continent or beyond. This helped young learners consider the importance of a global profile, at a stage when they are making important study choices and are starting to think about higher education.

As for S1 pupils, after a French session with one of our enthusiastic 2nd year, Samuel, they went on an adventure on campus: armed with audio clues in French, they explored the grounds, collecting information along the way, in a bid to crack a code to work out the secret message they had been given. This cross-disciplinary and fun approach gave them a glimpse into the daily life of students as they went from one place to the next, and this discovery experience is also part of a joint bid to make young pupils think about university studies from an early age. It was also a chance for them to realise that languages and STEM subjects often complement each other well: code-breaking has historically been done by linguists as much as scientists; for instance, many of the talented code-breakers who worked in Bletchley Park during World War II were linguists, and worked alongside mathematicians to crack and decipher codes used by enemies to communicate.

But more exciting opportunities lay in store: for their next visits, pupils will get a chance to visit the Confucius Institute for Business and to learn some Esperanto, to name but a few of the activities LINCS has in store for them.

InterTrainE Newsletter: January 2019

Welcome to the first newsletter of our Erasmus+ project Intercultural Training for Educators (InterTrainE). The 27-month project (2018-2020) is led by Heriot-Watt University and the Coordinator is Dr Katerina Strani from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies.

InterTrainE includes 7 partners from 4 countries (UK, Finland, Italy and Greece) and aims to develop an intercultural training programme for educators teaching adult migrants.

The partners are:

Specifically, the project will develop 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 MOOC.

A Joint Staff Training Event will take place in Rethymnon, Crete, in March 2020, where the partners will test the curriculum and training materials before these are finalised and presented at the Final Dissemination Conference in Edinburgh in September 2020.

Our kick-off meeting took place in Edinburgh on 22-23 October 2018.

Partners met at Heriot-Watt University‘s Riccarton campus and discussed the project’s timeline, milestones and deadlines. They agreed on the project logo and on the design of the website. Each partner gave an overview of the Intellectual Output that they would be leading. The project evaluation procedures were also finalised, and the procedure of appointing an external evaluator was agreed upon. The external evaluator for the project will be Dr Jim Crowther, Senior Lecturer in Community Education, University of Edinburgh. The full agenda of the meeting can be found here.


Progress and 1st Intellectual Output (IO1)

The first two Intellectual Outputs (IO1 and IO2) constitute a needs analysis. For IO1, Online questionnaires on educators’ and learners’ experiences and views on intercultural education in each country were designed and distributed. A database of stakeholders in every partner country was created for this purpose as well as for general dissemination purposes. The questionnaire data was collected, analysed and evaluated by each partner. National reports were drafted accordingly, and a project report was completed by CLP, who led this output, in December 2018.

The project report for IO1, which includes the questionnaire templates and findings from all countries participating in the project, can be found here.

2nd Intellectual Output (IO2)

The second phase of the needs analysis, which started in January 2019, includes:

  • background research for existing programmes on intercultural training for educators, aiming to point out the needs for update or the development of new material
  • semi-structured interviews of experts and educators in adult education in each partner country. Interviews are currently under way and the findings will be compared to existing data on qualifications and competences available.

National reports will be drafted, and the leading partner for this IO, Il Sicomoro, will compile the project report for IO2.

This is estimated to be ready in March – watch this space!


Our project website and social media accounts will soon be available, so stay tuned!

Next project meeting:

11-12 April 2019

Matera, Italy

Contact

For any questions or comments, please contact the project coordinator:

Dr Katerina Strani

Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies

Henry Prais Building

Heriot-Watt University

Edinburgh EH14 4AS

UK

Tel: +44 131 451 4216

A.Strani@hw.ac.uk

The INCS in LINCS

LINCS is not only about languages; it stands for Languages and INterCultural Studies and our core purpose is to create multilingual, multicultural, global citizens. To achieve this, the “INCS” in LINCS specialises in (inter)cultural studies such as living cultural heritage, language policy and intercultural communication.

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), and Intercultural Communication in the Workplace (Postgraduate). It also manages our MSc Cultural Heritages programme family, which includes our MSc in Tourism and Heritage Management. Cultural Studies staff and students are also members of our Intercultural Research Centre (IRC).  

People

Staff

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 racism (RADAR), Katerina has developed a keen research interest in the concept of race, particularly race relations and the language of race. She teaches International Politics, Society and Institutions in Contemporary Europe, Intercultural Issues in Business and Management and Conference Interpreting. For a list of publications, please click here; for a list of funded projects, please click here.

Katerina is a Member of the Political Studies Association, the International Communications Association, the University Association of Contemporary European Studies and the Chartered Institute of Linguists. A.Strani@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KaterinaStrani

Máiréad Nic Craith is Professor of European Culture and Heritage and she previously held a Chair in the School of Social Sciences and Applied Social Studies at the University of Ulster, as well as honorary professorships in other institutions in the UK and abroad. She has received many accolades for her publications, including the Ruth Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff research prize for folklife (joint winner), which was awarded at the University of Edinburgh in 2004. In 2009 she was elected to the Royal Irish Academy. Máiréad has served on numerous research evaluation panels in Europe, Canada and Australia. In 2011, she was invited by the United Nations as an expert on access to heritage as a human right. In 2013, she was invited by the European Centre on Minority Issues as an expert on (linguistic) minorities.

Máiréad’s research focuses on different aspects of living heritage including literary heritage (from the Great Blasket Island), intercultural heritage (Cork), World Heritage sites (Skellig Michael), heritage and conflict (Northern Ireland) and heritage and law in a European context.  For a complete list of Máiréad’s publications, please click here. M.NicCraith@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @mairead_nc

Ullrich 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. U.Kockel@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @KockelU

Kerstin Pfeiffer is the Director of Undergraduate Teaching Programmes in LINCS and is a member of several committees at School and University level. She also represents the School of Social Sciences 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. She teaches courses in German language, history and culture at UG and PG level.

Kerstin’s 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. K.Pfeiffer@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @DrKPfeiffer

Cristina Clopot is Research Associate at the IRC, contributing to the Horizon2020 project, CoHERE: Critical Heritages: Performing and Representing Identities in Europe. Cristina’s work explores the intersection of heritage studies, folklore and anthropology, with a particular interest for themes such as: intangible heritage, festivals, tradition, rituals, ethnic and religious heritage. In 2014, she received the Estella Cranziani Post-Graduate Bursary for Research. Cristina is a member of the board and newsletter coordinator of the Intangible Cultural Heritage network of the Association of Critical Heritage Studies and a founding member of its new Early Career Researchers’ network. She also acts as Associate Editor (Social Media) for the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures. For a list of Cristina’s publications, please click here. C.Clopot@hw.ac.uk Twitter: @cris_clopot

Claudia V. 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. C.Angelelli@hw.ac.uk

John Clearyis 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. J.A.Cleary@hw.ac.uk

PhD students

Chiara Cocco Cc80@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Festivals and folklore through the lens of affect and emotions: the case study of Sant’Efisio in Sardinia, supervised by Máiréad Nic Craithand Kerstin Pfeiffer

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

Jos Collins – jc120@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Living Tradition and Cultural Revival: Scottish Folk Drama in the 21st Century, supervised by Kerstin Pfeiffer, Gary West, Neill Martin and Donald Smith.

Jos’s 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.

Naomi Harvey – neh1@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Collecting and preserving access to Intangible Cultural Heritage within the digital environment: Evaluating New Models for Scotland, supervised by Máiréad 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 heritage.

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

Alastair Mackie – am279@hw.ac.uk

Thesis 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 Kockel.

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 poltiical, 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. Twitter: @asbmackie

Catherine McCullagh – cjm5@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: ‘Curating Heritage for Sustainable Communities in Highly Vulnerable Environments: The Case of Scotland’s Northern Isles’, supervised by Ullrich Kockel, Donna 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  

Michael Richardson – mr38@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Deaf people’s participation in theatre, supervised by Kerstin Pfeiffer and Svenja Wurm

Michael does research in Deaf people and the Performing Arts. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in medicine, but has also spent much of his career as a theatre practitioner, making a particular contribution to youth theatre. His book Youth Theatre, Drama for Life (Routledge) was published in 2015. His PhD thesis is exploring the participation of Deaf people in theatre. He has presented papers drawing on his research in conferences in events in Scotland, Ireland and France. For a list of Michael’s publications, please click here. Twitter: @mr38_richardson

Marc Romanomhr7@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Brexit and Heritage Futures in Scotland: The Auld Alliance – Establishing a Counter-Heritage, supervised by Katerina Strani andMáiréad Nic Craith

As one of the longest relationship 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%.  

Ozge Yalinay oy30@hw.ac.uk

Thesis topic: Interpreting Istanbul Grand Bazaar as a traditional marketplace: contemporary cultural discourse, supervised by Babak Taheri and Máiréad Nic Craith

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 click here.

By Katerina Strani

Sign language researchers talk research!

By Jemina Napier

Click here to see a version of this blogpost in British Sign Language (BSL).

While I am on research sabbatical from Heriot-Watt University I am fortunate to be spending my time as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) at the University of Edinburgh (see here for overview of what I am working on).

As part of my fellowship I have been able to avail of IASH facilities to organize a workshop with a leading scholar in the field of Deaf Studies, Dr Annelies Kusters, to bring together a small group of researchers who work with sign language data. The 2-day workshop took place on 25-26 October 2018 and was by invitation only. Our priority was to invite deaf and hearing researchers that are fluent British Sign Language (BSL) users, and who are currently grappling with issues either to do with the analysis of qualitative sign language data, or are exploring new and innovative qualitative research methods. One of the reasons we wanted to ensure that everyone is a fluent BSL user is because we wanted to avoid holding discussions through interpreters, to allow for more in-depth and organic discussions. And this certainly worked!

The majority of the 12 attendees were my colleagues and PhD students from the Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies at Heriot-Watt University, but we also had several attendees from other UK universities and also one Finnish university.

The first day (Thursday) was dedicated to the discussion of different approaches to data analysis, and the second day (Friday) was devoted to methodologies. Each participant was asked to give a 15-minute presentation about their topic and we built in plenty of time for discussion. The projects being conducted by the group range from experiences of deaf people seeking asylum in Finland, documentation of Indonesian Sign Language, explorations of professional and labour migration among deaf sign language users, family sign language policy, deaf tourism in Bali, video remote sign language interpreting in police settings, different perceptions of sign language interpreting, and experiences of deaf business owners, deaf professionals and deaf parents in social work contexts. As you would expect, such a range of projects calls for a range of approaches to data analysis and methodologies. Over the two days the following key issues were discussed:

  • How and whether to anonymise video data
  • Whether to directly code from sign language data or translate and code from written (representative) texts – and if so what and how to translate
  • Use of different software for coding (such as ELAN, Atlas.ti or N-Vivo)
  • Processes for deciding what and how to code
  • How to code observational fieldnotes, and saturation of observational data
  • Thematic coding as an organic or planned process
  • Using visual methods for data collection and analysis – eco-maps, photos, film-making, social media networking sites
  • Data coding fatigue
  • Benefits of documenting analytical decisions as part of the research process
  • Value of having conversations with others about coding/ annotation/ analytical processes
  • Challenges of how and what to code
  • Power dynamics in interviewing participants
  • Positionality and the observer’s paradox
  • Reflexivity in planning, reviewing data collection and data analysis
  • Ethics of recruiting and interviewing disadvantaged people, and methods for gaining consent
  • Building rapport and trust with research participants
  • How to create semi-authentic simulations of sign language (interpreted) interactions
  • Interviewing directly or through interpreters
  • Methods for taking fieldnotes

This exploratory workshop was a huge success, so we hope to make it an annual event, and open it up to other sign language researchers. Many of the issues we dissected are not unique to sign language researchers by any means, but being able to come together and have the space to have open and frank conversations about our work in sign language was a rare and much valued opportunity. We are considering a proposal for an edited volume based on the format of this workshop, so hopefully that will be a book that we can add to the IASH library one day!

 

This blogpost was first posted on the IASH website on 6th November 2018: http://www.iash.ed.ac.uk/news/sign-language-researchers-talk-research

 

Moving Languages project finished!

by Katerina Strani

We are very pleased to announce that our EU-funded Moving Languages project has now come to an end! The 27-month project (2016-2018), led by Learnmera Oy in Finland with LINCS at Heriot-Watt as a partner, developed a free mobile application designed to help new migrants learn the host language(s) and familiarise themselves with culture-specific vocabulary and concepts. A user-friendly, versatile and comprehensive app, it also aims to encourage people to learn other languages and promote understanding between cultures.

The Moving Languages app provides a gamified language- and culture-learning tool. It contains 4000+ illustrated vocabulary items for easy concept recognition, grammar exercises, flashcards, reading comprehension, listening comprehension, culture, administration, health and immigration tabs, dialogues with audio, audio spelling and comprehension tests and many other features. The app covers topics that are essential during the first steps of living in the host country. 

Users can learn English, Spanish, Italian, German, Swedish, Finnish (main languages) from 20 support languages widely spoken by refugees/migrants in partner countries:

Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Estonian, French, Hungarian, Kurdish (Sorani), Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Somali, Tigrinya, Turkish, Ukranian, and Urdu

They can also use the main languages as support languages if they wishes. This means that if you download the English app, you can learn English from 25 languages in total.

 

We launched the app at an event held in June 2018 and held our final meeting in Bilbao on 4th October 2018 to finalise the app and the project. It has been a pleasure to work with our international partners in this project and to engage with users who have tried our app.

The project may have ended, but our apps will be available for free for the next 3 years, so please download them, try them, and send us your feedback!

You can download the English app here:

iOS https://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/moving-languages-uk/id1389806713?mt=8

Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ml.english

To download the Spanish, German, Italian, Finnish and Swedish language apps, please click here.

For a step-by-step guide on how to use the app, please click here

For more information, contact the UK coordinator, Dr Katerina Strani A.Strani@hw.ac.uk or the project coordinator Veronica Gelfgren Veronica@learnmera.com

Website: http://www.movinglanguages.eu/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/movinglanguages/

LinkedIN: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/8580234

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/movinglanguages/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MovLanguages

Translating and Interpreting in Modern Times: The Impact of Technology

by Lucas Pira

On Wednesday 3rd October, to celebrate International Translation Day, the Heriot-Watt Centre for Translation and Interpreting Studies in Scotland (CTISS) hosted a symposium on a topic that will dominate the translation and interpreting conversation for years to come: technology. CTISS director, Jemina Napier, and Head of French Section, Fanny Chouc, organised an event that featured three interesting and insightful presentations by Rebecca Elder, Robert Skinner and Sarah Fisher, on the place of technology in the daily life of a translator or interpreter.

Rebecca Elder, a recent HWU graduate and now freelance translator, showed us how she uses technology for work purposes. She also gave us an insight into the way she works and provided some helpful tips for starting a career as a Freelance translator by tackling seven specific challenges.  To the question, “Is technology a friend or foe?” Rebecca stated she does not think technology will replace translators anytime soon but new tasks such as post editing of machine translation will have to be taken into consideration. She also underlined the importance of having a CAT tool before moving on to discuss how to technology can help establish a presence on the market and overcome a lack of experience, or what is popularly referred to as “impostor syndrome”. Rebecca’s presentation was an invaluable source of information, giving precious advice, derived from her own experiences, on how to begin a career as a freelance translator.

Robert Skinner, a current PHD student at HWU and professional BSL interpreter, discussed video-mediated interpreting for non-emergency calls to the police. BSL interpreters have long been at the forefront of technology, but even so, Robert revealed how interpreters and users still face a number of challenges with Video Relay Services and Video Remote Interpreting. BSL interpreters working remotely, for example, have to think about how they introduce themselves to the user. He gave us an example of an Italian interpreter who practically assumed the role of a Police officer. Interpreters also have to think about how they communicate with the police and deaf users at the same time, often forced to speak two languages simultaneously.

Our final speaker, Sarah Fisher, a former HWU MSc student & professional conference interpreter, talked about conference interpreters’ perceptions of the impact of technology on their work. Her research focusses on the use of technology in the booth among interpreters and on the sociocultural impact technology has on the profession.  Sarah has conducted numerous interviews with practicing interpreters, revealing an overall increase in the use of technology in this field. Nowadays, interpreters bring their laptops to facilitate their task, and they also make the most of social media, both as a way to build their own profiles and to stay connected to other interpreting professionals. According to her data, however, conference interpreters value these tools as back up rather than as something that will replace the traditional pen-and-paper toolkit.

Most interestingly, conference interpreters seem to have a keen sense of the sociocultural aspects of technology and the negative impact it has on the profession. Sarah revealed that there is a growing sense that technology has a negative impact on the visibility of interpreting professionals, who worry that they’ll be viewed as just “a voice that could be anywhere, that could be anyone.” Perhaps this is why technology is such an important area, and one that needs to be discussed further and in broader terms, because some of the perceived challenges translators and interpreters face in this new technological age can only be overcome by viewing technology as an ally rather than an enemy.