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Sara Ganassin

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Sara Ganassin

  1. 1. Community based multilingual research in the North East of EnglandFlexible multilingualism and language shift in researcher-participant interaction Sara Ganassin
  2. 2. Outiline of the session
  3. 3. Research Context: Aspen Culture Project• Introductory research to a regional CLG funded women’s project running between 2009 and 2011• About the project: Creating safe spaces for women for sharing issues affecting them Fostering positive changes and cultural engagement Focus on women from migrant, refugee and asylum seeker backgrounds• Areas of activity: research, training, group work, producing resources, events and conferences
  4. 4. Research on women’s cultural inequalities• Promoting the women’s subjective perspective on culture and barriers to its access• A diverse team of 11 volunteers trainedas researcher-photographers workingwith women across the NE• Qualitative research methods(focus groups and participatory photographyto produce images representing the issues)• Four main themes: Fine arts Food Festivals & Heritage Performing Arts I will be much closer to you, when I eat the same as you
  5. 5. Complexity of linguistic positions• Focus groups as main settings• Multilingualism and language diversity as embodied in the research• 11 volunteer-researchers and 68 participants from diverse ethno-linguistic backgrounds• At least 15 mother-tongues• English as central for the whole research design
  6. 6. The role of English• English as central and mandatory for the research design and report writing• BUT• English was not the mother-tongue of a large majority of participants• Nor the researchers’ mother-tongue• Often ‘colonial’ language• Which English? Where there’s a will there’s a way‘I think that an issue especially regarding, well, English but also French is that is the official language of many, many countries so I mean even if pronounce is not properly British like people from where English is one of official languages and very good English in terms of grammar or expressions or whatever you want, sometimes there’s just kind of understanding’ (Quote from focus group)
  7. 7. Some issues and reflections from the study• Diversity of languages and levels of Participants able to support each command involved other in the translations• Need to translate concepts often private and emotional• Effective communication Ability of language shift as premises researcher-participants of the research• English to be kept as central for the research design and to allow everyone’s participation• Avoidance of interpreters• Given a multilingual setting language was not openly problematised within the research implementation
  8. 8. Power relations researcher-participant:absence of language authority?• ‘Reassurance’ coming from the fact that everyone is ‘foreigner’ and different level of English are accepted• Reflexivity research-participants: shared experience of migration• BUT• The researcher is also external from both the host community and the participants’ ones• Flexible multilingualism and use of a third language to facilitate the conversation
  9. 9. Versatile multilingualism: an addedvalue?• Multilingual participants and researchers are more used to paraphrases• It allows not to use interpreters• ‘Empowering’ for people who translates in the focus groups as they feel value for their linguistic diversity• In multilingual groups those who feel disadvantages are generally the monolingual elements• Richness of conceptual meanings
  10. 10. Some points for discussion: what linguistic premises for community based research?• Experience of community practitioner applied to research• Effective engagement and language switch• Multilingualism vs interpreting• Researcher as outsider or as insider?
  11. 11. Normative multilingualism in community based projects?• ‘I feel embarrassed I am the only one here who cannot speak more than one language’ So much to see and learn..am I intelligent enough to understand?
  12. 12. Thank you• Project website: www.aspenculture.org.uk• Contact: sara.ganassin@durham.ac.uk

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