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Establishing methodologies for researching multilingually ESRC final conference 26 th March 2013 Project funded by the AHRC “Translating Cultures” strand.

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Presentation on theme: "Establishing methodologies for researching multilingually ESRC final conference 26 th March 2013 Project funded by the AHRC “Translating Cultures” strand."— Presentation transcript:

1 Establishing methodologies for researching multilingually ESRC final conference 26 th March 2013 Project funded by the AHRC “Translating Cultures” strand (AH/J005037/1) Prue Holmes (Durham University) Richard Fay (The University of Manchester Jane Andrews (The University of the West of England) Mariam Attia (The University of Manchester)

2 Overview 1. Background to AHRC-funded “Researching Multilingually” network project 2. AHRC theme and project aims 3. Four illustrative case studies 4. An emergent conceptual framework 5. Policy implications

3 Developing the focus  from initial reflections on experiences (2009)  to an initial ‘Exploratory Seminar’ (Durham 2010)  to a BAAL Colloquium (Bristol, 2011)  to the AHRC-funded research network  to network seminars (2012)  to BAAL collaborative colloquium with ERSC RDI project (Southampton, 2012)  to a special issue of International Journal of Applied Linguistics  to DTC training methodology workshop

4 AHRC research theme Translating cultures “… ‘translation’ is an essential tool in ensuring that languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives can be mutually shared and comprehended. We need to consider not only the complex mechanisms of translating one language into another, but also more broadly how cultural exchange and transmission functions in a variety of circumstances and periods, including communication and miscommunication, multiculturalism, toleration and migration.” aspx

5 Our research network objectives 1.Examine the experiences of researchers in translating, interpreting, and writing up collected and generated data (dialogic, mediated, virtual, textual) from one language to another; 2.Explore ethical issues in the representation of data across more than one language; 3.Identify methods and techniques that improve processes of researching multilingually; 4.Develop a conceptual framework of researching multilingually processes; and 5.Explore recommendations and guidelines for researching multilingually that can be implemented by all researchers, and research training programmes.

6 “Researching Multilingually” website

7 Case study 1 (“Polishing the translations”) Ana Beaven (2012) Methodological issues concerning research on plurilingual online communication. Paper presented at a seminar on Researching Multilingually, 25 th -26 th April, University of the West of England, UK. Research focus:Modern foreign languages, study ` abroad experience Languages:Italian and English Data source:Italian/UK students’ online interactions Researcher background:Fluency in Italian and English

8 Themes relating to opportunities and challenges during the process of researching: Meeting the requirements of PhD research – where to put the Italian texts? How to use footnotes? Researcher professionalism leading to action – Ana returned to her data whilst writing to “polish” the translations; she consulted her sister. Researcher responsibility to her participants – Ana was concerned with how she represented the voices of her research participants given the communicative affordances of online communication – fluidity of communication.

9 Case study 2 (Researcher agency) Mariam Attia (2012) Reflective practice in research undertaken multilingually. Paper presented at a seminar on Researching Multilingually, 25 th -26 th April, University of the West of England, UK. Research focus:Teacher education in context of Arabic teaching in Egypt Languages:Arabic, English Data source:Qualitative data, analysed through a software package Researcher background:Multilingual researcher fluent in Danish, Arabic, English, expertise in educational technologies

10 Potential constraints faced during the research process: Software package in use presumed English language texts would be input and analysed/coded using Roman script Researcher agency – Mariam questioned this assumption – why analyse in English? Why translate before analysing? Why code in English? Approach to software company opened up a dialogue following which the facility for inputting data in additional scripts was added Researcher agency challenged the norm embedded within packages providing technological support for dealing with qualitative data

11 Case study 3 (“Am I allowed to do that?”) “Could I do my interviews in Chinese?” she asked …  even though studying in an English-medium research environment, researchers often have multilingual and (inter)cultural resources and repertoires of value and appropriacy for their research … [elsewhere] “But am I allowed to do that?” …  such resources are often viewed as obstacles to be overcome  as something requiring permission ……rather than as  affordances to be embraced, purposefully utilised, and transparently discussed … “And should I translate them or transcribe them first?” …  through such Qs, we began to realise the under-discussed complexities of doing research multilingually …  even though we so often have/choose to write about it in English …

12 Extracts from Xiaowei’s researcher story: “During [my complex development as a researcher], … I also learnt to make decisions for my research and ask myself “why” regarding each decision, a habit gradually developed along with my in-depth immersion in the research methodology literature, discussions with my supervisors, and engagement in different kinds of academic activities. So, I began to question myself more than before. Yes, I continued to read literature written in English … and wait – is this literature neutral or does it convey any “Western-biases”? Is there any discussion in my mother tongue which proposes alternative views regarding my conceptual focuses (e.g. culture, intercultural communication) and research methodology? Yes, I continued to receive supervision in English … and wait – why was I making notes of the supervisory meetings in both English and Mandarin? Were there any discrepancies when I tried to note down the English concepts in Mandarin? Yes, I generated data in Mandarin, and then analysed and interpreted them … and wait – why was I coding the data bilingually? Were my interpretations based on my Mandarin-medium and English-medium experiences?

13 [ … ] When I explored relevant literature, I looked for works written in both English and Mandarin, including works regarding the concepts of “culture / 文化 ”, “intercultural communication / 跨文化交际 ”, and “narrative inquiry / 叙事研究 ”. I found that the Mandarin-written literature in these areas resonate with that written in English to a large extent rather than providing me with many interestingly alternative insights … My exploration of the Mandarin-medium literature [re culture] As I set out on my study and realised the potential advantage of my bilingual background, I began to also explore relevant literature written in Mandarin. First, I examined the contemporary Mandarin-medium literature on “ 文化 ” – the Mandarin equivalent for culture and a phrase existing in Mandarin for more than two thousand years. I noted two characteristics of this literature: it includes different definitions of “ 文化 [culture]”, definitions which seemed to me similar to what I had learnt from the English-medium literature; and it tends to associate culture with countries or larger geographical entities, including “ 中国文化 [Chinese culture]” and “ 西方文化 [Western culture]”.

14 Case study 4 (Researcher spaces) Davcheva, L. and Fay, R. (2012). ‘Reflections on collaborative research about one language (Ladino) through fieldwork in another (Bulgarian) and analysis, presentation and researcher collaboration largely in a third (English).’ Tales of Ladino - Identity-performance of Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria 1. … exploration of the narrativised understandings of 14 middle-aged / elderly Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria re Ladino 2. Languages: Ladino, Bulgarian and English 3. Narrative methodology (involving e.g. restorying) 4. Collaborative: 2 researchers (no explicit researcher hierarchy) 5. Intercultural (involving researchers with differing linguistic and cultural backgrounds) 6. Reflexive (reciprocal reflexivity managed through researcher stories - of Ladino experiences and of being researchers) 7. Diverse audiences for research presentation / report

15 Four spaces for mapping the RM aspects of the study: o the researched space (complex linguistic space in which Ladino functions co-territorially with e.g. Bulgarian, Turkish, etc) o the research space (field and desk) o the researcher (collaborative) space; and o the research presentation / representation space. Exemplifying the Research Space re data generation /processing: 1. Storytelling encounter  2. Bulgarian transcript  3. Bulgarian restorying  4. Raw English restorying  5. polished English restorying.

16 Conceptualising researching multilingually processes 1) Fashion/convention/intentionality Fashion—what is usually done Convention—what you should do (Convention and fashion ignore awareness) Intentionality What you think is right Researcher reflexivity & sensitivity, identity 2) Relationality Researcher, supervisor, participants,translators/interpreters/transcribers Trust, ethics, power 3) Researching multilingually spaces Research; researched; researcher; re/presentation Interdisciplinary insights

17 Policy Possibilities  Researcher/supervisor reflexivity  Making processes/choices transparent  Flexible multilingualism in researcher/participant engagement  Opportunities to make linguistic complexities explicit  Challenging “English only” dissemination

18 Thank You Researching Multilingually Prue Holmes Richard Fay Jane Andrews Mariam Attia


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