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!

Signing up a storm?

Not for the first time, the Eurovision Song Contest has managed to draw attention to language issues in a revealing way.

We all know the controversies over the years about countries choosing to sing in English. If you thought that wasn’t happening so much nowadays, the 2017 final featured 42 songs, of which 35 were sung entirely in English – at 83%, that’s the highest proportion ever.

You may be less aware, though, that Eurovision has also offered its own unique window on the place of sign language in society.

Back in 2005, the Latvian entry ‘The War Is Not Over’ featured a final chorus in which the performers, Valters & Kaža, left their stools and laid down their acoustic guitars to sign alongside their signing. It’s not clear why. The song received the famous douze points from IrelandLithuania and Moldova, and finished 5th overall.

Things nearly got more interesting in 2009 when a Deaf artist, Signmark, competed in Finland’s national Eurovision qualifications. Signmark (real name: Marko Vuoriheimo), who was born into a signing family, performed ‘Speakerbox’ with a hearing singer. But the song ended up in second place in the Finnish competition and so narrowly missed out on being chosen for the grand Eurovision final. Nevertheless, Signmark went on to great things and goes down in history as the first deaf person to sign a recording contract with an international record company (Warner Music).

In 2015, the focus shifted from signing performers to a signing interpreter. In Sweden, the national competition was presented with Tommy Krångh delivering Swedish Sign Language renditions alongside each song. His work was so popular that there were demands for him to appear for the grand final, too

And what’s the story in 2018?

This year, the UK has decided to experiment with signing. SuRie, our representative in Lisbon, has recorded a British Sign Language version of her track ‘Storm’. The BBC proudly reported that she learnt it “in just a few hours”. SuRie has, we’re told, “been wanting to learn BSL for a long time” and jumped at the chance to pursue this when a fan sent her a video of himself signing ‘Storm’. The BBC’s Newsround said: “She got in touch and asked if he would teach her how to sign the lyrics too”.

The initiative soon started to attract interest. A clip was released on Twitter, but not everyone was enthusiastic, with one person even saying “this makes me want to poke my eyes out”. The singer anxiously replied “I realise there’s tons more to BSL than I was able to portray here and that I have a helluva lot more to learn”. More discussion followed, spinning out – that’s social media, folks! – into strongly-worded antagonism and much taking of sides.

A 24-hour Twitter poll summarised three stances that were emerging. Respondents voted as follows to the proposition that SuRie’s BSL version should be seen as either:

  • Inspiring: a model of inclusivity and artistic creativity – 16%
  • Harmlessly well-intentioned but misguided – 60%
  • Cynical, crass, ignorant and disrespectful – 24%

So what’s going on here? And why is this a LifeinLINCS issue?

Well, as a department, LINCS teaches both spoken and signed languages. And we specialise in both translation and interpreting studies, and intercultural research. The SuRie ‘Storm’-in-a-teacup touches on every part of this.

British Sign Language (BSL) wasn’t even understood to be a language until the mid-1970s. Ten years later, it started to be taught in earnest. And within 20 years of that point, it had become one of the most popular adult education subjects in the UK. Almost all of that teaching was being led by Deaf BSL users.

Now, thanks in part to a Heriot-Watt initiative, plans are afoot to offer BSL as a full language subject in schools across Scotland. LINCS’ own Dr Ella Leith is currently on secondment to the Scottish Qualifications Authority, coordinating a project to develop BSL qualifications for high schools. Exciting times!

But this starts to show why SuRie’s BSL work has frustrated some. BSL simply can’t be learned meaningfully in two hours: “It’s a complex language, you know” noted one tweeter, “way beyond swear words and song lyrics and Trump’s sign name”. The professionalisation of BSL teaching has been pursued for over 30 years. Reversing the historic oppression of the language has been wrapped up with highlighting, as teachers, Deaf people for whom BSL is a preferred language.

Then there’s the question of the quality of the BSL translation. LINCS students work their socks off not for hours but for years (eg on our main undergraduate programme to develop the ability to produce effective BSL output from English source material. And they wouldn’t start with artistic matter like song lyrics, either!

Above all, perhaps, an opportunity has been missed to do some valuable intercultural work. A Eurovision entry that had been seriously planned with both sung and signed content, developed by artists with profound knowledge of the underlying issues of language and heritage, would have been much less likely to have been viewed as ‘cultural appropriation’ at work.

Can there be a happy ending to this story?

Eurovision reached over 180 million television viewers in 2017. Sending any kind of message to such an audience about effective engagement with sign language and with considered, high-quality translation would have to be welcome. The big prize, though, would be to show clearly that Deaf people aren’t so much “in need” of some crumbs of “access” from the hearing world’s table, but are contributors to society with extraordinary artistic, linguistic and cultural riches to share.

LINCS’ own work on the intangible heritage of the Deaf community reinforces that there are many creative artists using BSL. The Scottish Government’s National Plan for BSL envisages “promotion” of BSL as part of the shared cultural life of the nation. We’re working to get that message out through initiatives like the current two-year Royal Society of Edinburgh project to construct a Deaf Heritage network which can feed BSL inspiration into national cultural institutions.

SuRie appears to have quickly realised that there was more to all of this than meets the eye, saying: “Probs best if I leave it to the professionals, I really never intended to disappoint anyone in the community… but I realise I’m out of my depth and I do apologise”. Perhaps the very best thing she could do would be to turn this outcome on its head by coming out as a true champion for BSL in society and the arts. Now that really would send a clear signal.

Professor Graham H. Turner

Marco Polo project: Training Module in Penang

by Katerina Strani

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John Cleary and Katerina Strani from LINCS led the 2nd Training Module on International Cooperation Agreements and Networks, which is part of the Erasmus+ Marco Polo project (574027-EPP-1-2016-1-ES-EPPKA2-CBHE-JP), led by the University of Seville. The project includes 9 partners from Spain, the UK, Austria, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, and seeks to strengthen International Cooperation amongst Higher Education Institutions by establishing new mechanisms to exchange experiences and good practices, providing training to HEI staff, creating a framework for mobility of students and staff, and fostering research abilities by creating international research groups.

The 2nd Training Module on International Cooperation Agreements and Networks took place on 21st – 25th August at Universiti Sains Malaysia, in Penang, Malaysia. The first day was spent presenting the participating institutions: the hosts, Universiti Sains Malaysia, the University of Malaya, Prince of Songkla University, Naresuan University, Hanoi University, PTIT and Heriot-Watt University. On the second day, John and Katerina led discussions on internationalisation in the Higher Education sector and what this means for individual institutions. Differences in conceptualisations, priorities and strategies already started to emerge. The day continued with an interactive workshop on international cooperation agreements and networks and a subsequent talk by Dr Khairul Anuar Che Azmi from the USM legal office. The workshops continued on template agreements, analysing risk and developing institutional strategies for network building and internationalisation.

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The third day continued with more workshops on teamwork and building trust in cross-cultural teams, as well as building and sustaining virtual networks using social media.

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All delegates visited the impressive – to say the least – USM’s International Mobility and Collaboration Centre (IMCC).

Here’s how IMCC staff and ‘buddies’ welcomed the delegates:

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The fourth day focused on discussion and reflections on the week’s activities and drew parallels between institutional strategies. It also focused on future collaborations and included meetings with USM Heads of Schools and Departments. We were particularly honoured to have had the opportunity to have a meeting with the Vice-Chancellor of USM Professor Datuk Dr. Asma Ismail and discuss with her the university’s vision, priorities and opportunities for collaboration.

Malaysia (1)

The final day continued the networking activities at a more informal basis and included a tour of Georgetown, the capital city of Penang. Georgetown is unique in its diversity and richness in culture, heritage, architecture and food. The oldest portion of the city centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A blend of Chinese shophouses (“clan jetties”), Chinese temples, Hindu temples and Mosques Georgetown has also retained some colonial-style buildings, English street names and an Anglican church, St George’s (unsurprisingly). The Street of Harmony is testimony to the matchless diversity of the city.

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A promising project module that establishes important international networks could not have taken place in a better setting than unique Penang, in an unparalleled environment of rich cultural  heritage, tremendous hospitality an and mouthwatering food.

Terima kasih !

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59°N – IRC PhD Student based in Orkney

by Cait McCullagh

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

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

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

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The view over the island of Hoy

 

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Kirkwall Harbour

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

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

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Interior of the boat shed at Lyness on Scapa Flow

 

Active learning at a World Heritage Site

by Cristina Clopot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about you ?