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Large Grants Awards

Professor Charles Burdett, University of Bristol

Transnationalizing Modern Languages: Mobility, Identity and Translation in Modern Italian Cultures

The project investigates practices of linguistic and cultural interchange within communities and individuals and explores the ways in which cultural translation intersects with linguistic translation in the everyday lives of human subjects within mobile and migrant communities. Using as its primary object of enquiry the 150-year history of Italy as a nation state and its patterns of emigration and immigration, the project will develop a new framework for the discipline of Modern Languages as a whole, one which puts the interaction of languages and cultures at its core.

The particular mobility of Italian culture and its interactions with other cultures around the globe is examined in this three-year project (2014-17) by academics in Italian Studies and cognate disciplines from the Universities of Bristol, St Andrews, Warwick and QMU. Researchers will investigate specific moments in the histories of the Italian communities established in the UK, the US, Australia, South America, Africa and of the migrant communities of contemporary Italy. Focusing on the cultural associations that each community has formed and engaging closely with their current representatives, the project team will gather and analyse a wealth of publications and materials: journals, literature, life stories, photographs, collections of memorabilia and other forms of representation. They will trace the ways in which these materials tell the stories of different types of linguistic and cultural translation and, in so doing, challenge and reformulate notions of national identity.

Looking beyond academic disciplines and questions, this research will develop understanding of a key question in globalized society: how do people respond creatively to living in a bi-lingual or multi-lingual environment and to identifying themselves as mobile individuals or communities? Public-facing activities within the project, such as photography, drama, creative writing, and exhibitions will invite school students and adult learners to explore everyday practices of translating culture.

For more information, please see the project's website.

Professor Angela Creese, University of Birmingham

Translation and translanguaging: Investigating linguistic and cultural transformations in superdiverse wards in four UK cities

The aim of the project is to understand how people communicate multilingually across diverse languages and cultures. The project defines 'translation' as the negotiation of meaning using different modes (spoken/written/ visual/gestural) where speakers have different proficiencies in a range of languages and varieties. When speakers do not share a common language they may rely on translation by professionals, friends or family, or by digital means. Such practices occur in 'translation zones', and are at the cutting edge of translation and negotiation.

The project views 'cultures' not as fixed sets of practices essential to ethnic groups, but rather as processes which change and which may be negotiable. In previous research in multilingual communities the team found speakers are not confined to using languages separately, but rather they 'translanguage' as they make meaning.

The project team will look closely and over time at language practices in public and private settings in Birmingham, Cardiff, Leeds, and London. The team will investigate how communication occurs (or fails) when people bring different histories and languages into contact. Outcomes will impact on policy on economic growth, migration, health and well-being, sport, cultural heritage, and law, by informing the work of policy-makers and public, private and third sector organisations.

For more information, please see the project's website.

Professor Alison Phipps, University of Glasgow

Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language: the Body, Law and the State

This international project has two overarching aims: 1) to research interpreting, translation and multilingual practices in challenging contexts, and, 2) while doing so, to evaluate appropriate research methods (traditional and arts based) and develop theoretical approaches for this type of academic exploration.

Researchers will conduct international comparative research on translation and interpretation at different kinds of border in order to develop theory, ethical research practices and research methodologies in relation to multilingual research.

This project has an innovative structure, involving five distinct case studies and two cross-disciplinary integrative “hubs”. The carefully selected case studies will allow for the documenting, analysing and comparing of translation processes and practices across different kinds of border and in a variety of geographical settings; and also the linking of these individual components through the two ‘hubs’ will ensure their cross-disciplinary integration.

The team envisages that this novel project structure will provide for the development of new theoretical, conceptual and empirical understandings of processes and practices of translation, interpretation and representation, and also of researching multilingual practices within one integrated project.

The hubs outlined above are RMTC (Researching Multilingually and Translating Cultures) and CATC (Creative Arts and Translating Cultures). The case studies include ‘Translating the Emotional Impact of Sexual and Gender-Based Trauma’, ‘Translating Vulnerability and Silence into the Legal Process’, and ‘Working and Researching Multilingually at State (and European Union) Borders’.

For more information, please see the project's website.