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The role of the arts in researching multilingually at the borders of language, the body, law and the state.


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Fay, R. (University of Manchester), The role of the arts in researching multilingually at the borders of language, the body, law and the state. Paper presented at the Language Research, Performance and the Creative Arts scoping event, hosted by the University of Leeds, October 16th, 2015.

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The role of the arts in researching multilingually at the borders of language, the body, law and the state.

  1. 1. • Challenge 1: Impersonating Alison  [more later] • Challenge 2: Summarising this 3-year, “multi-multi” project and highlighting the ‘language research’ and the integral place, aims, and roles of the ‘arts’ within it • Introducing the genesis of the project and highlighting the developing character of the ‘language research’ focus and the game-changing integration of the ‘arts’ within it • Conclude with an example of the arts as/in/for research Challenges and Introductions
  2. 2. • A chance conversation  Exploratory Symposium (Durham 2010) … possibilities for, complexities of RM-ly … developing researcher competence … ecological framing (intentionality) … narratives / reflective practice … UK HE Doctoral emphasis • A BAAL Colloquium (2011) • An AHRC Research Network (2011-13) • “rooted in intercultural communication, linguistics, and interpretation and translation” • invited “researchers across a range of disciplines, through a series of seminars, to demonstrate how they theorise and operationalise their data collection processes when working in more than one language”. • aimed to “build cross-disciplinary/-domain research capacity by foregrounding this under-investigated epistemological and methodological domain”. Genesis
  3. 3. • What difference does your language make to your life, safety, well-being? • How many ways might your life and stories be translated and be represented by others? • With what kind of power and ethics? • ‘What does it mean to be languaged in today’s world?’ • Languaged/ing under Pain and Pressure. • Troubling the cult of English/monolingually masked research. Translating Cultures (AHRC Large Grant 2014-17)
  4. 4. practice
  5. 5. Translating Cultures – Aims & Hubs Two over-arching aims: 1. to research interpreting, translation and multilingual practices in challenging contexts; and 2. while doing so, to document, describe and evaluate appropriate research methods (traditional and arts based) and develop theoretical approaches for this type of academic exploration. Two Hubs: • RMTC Hub • CATC Hub
  6. 6. Five Case Studies 1) Global Mental Health: Translating Sexual and Gender Based Trauma – Scotland/Uganda (Sierra Leone) 2) Law: Translating vulnerability and silence in the legal process - UK/Netherlands 3) State: Working and Researching Multilingually at State and EU borders - Bulgaria/Romania 4) Borders: Multilingual Ecologies in American Southwest borderlands - Arizona 5) Language Education: Arabic as a Foreign Language for International Learners - Gaza Translating Cultures – Case Studies
  7. 7. Focus on Methods: Part of the innovative nature of the project lies not in using new methods per se, but rather … (i) in comparing across discipline-specific methods, (ii) Interrogating research methods where the body and body politic are under threat, and (iii) in developing theoretical and methodological insights as a result. (iv) Arts based representations “performance, artistic and creative methods” Using accessible arts based methods to open up settled meanings whilst documenting and analysing commonalities and differences in concepts, methods, processes and practices across a range of fields, countries, disciplines and policy areas …. Translating Cultures - Methods
  8. 8. The Birth of the Idea “I like(d) the idea of an inter-hub joint “Performance” … because it: • takes us into the space that the final production (musical) will occupy; because it would take me (and I’m guessing others) into the rich (in terms of my researcher development) but still unfamiliar and a bit intimidating process of fully embedding CA methods, ways of thinking and working etc, into our research work; and • starts the process of synthesising work (synthesising across the project along the lines of the cross-unit constellations that are now forming) in ways which the project will need to do by the end. But, it may be that this is (possibly) a good idea coming at the wrong time and place? Too soon?” Brussels Performance
  9. 9. HOTSPOTS I have five ‘hot-spots’ (or moments of puzzlement, curiosity and/or revelation) to share with you. These have arisen in – and from and through my reflections on, conversations about, and theorising my practice from - my (often shared) experiences and engagements with various (and not predictable) encounters within the project and intersections (and resonances and collisions between) them. Brussels Performance
  10. 10. 4) Drawing on one’s linguistic resources – Taken for granted “One of the arguments we make in the RM-ly project is that multilingual researchers need to draw on their linguistic resources when doing research multilingually. I think this is easier said than done, and more exploration is needed to identify the challenges to ‘drawing one one’s own linguistic resources’, especially for researchers whose research training was/has been in English, and/or operate in English- medium research circles. Although I find it easy to speak to Nazmi in Arabic, I would find it challenging to write an academic piece in the same language. Being multilingual doesn’t mean that you have the complete competence or confidence to produce research multilingually.” Brussels Performance
  11. 11. I'll start simply .... I play music, not really a creative artist, more a ‘musiker’ I play with languages, not really a linguist, more a ‘languager’ But it gets more complicated ... I support others, not a therapist, just a ??? …. hmmm, ‘well-being-er’? I explore ‘cultures’, not an anthropologist, just an ‘interculturalist’ I fight injustice, not a lawyer, just an activist And even more complicated ... I’m thinking about researching multilingually, but I’m not researching multilingualism I’ve developed online language courses, but I’m not a Arabic as a Foreign Language expert and I've never worked under siege (just in awe of what those who are can achieve) And my brother asks me, as brothers do, “so exactly what parts of your skill-set qualify you for the project in Uganda?” And I wonder “just how I am contributing?” I emerge, reflectively and reflexively, looking for hotspots I immerse, curiously and exploratorily, becoming interdisciplinary And it gets simpler … Brussels Performance
  12. 12. Translating Cultures