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 is developing 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 projects will provide urgently needed contributions, from an Arts and Humanities perspective, to our understanding of some of the most pressing issues in the 21st century world: multilingualism, mobility, and the crossing of borders”

Professor Charles Forsdick, Theme Leadership Fellow for Translating Cultures

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, Cardiff and QMU. Researchers are investigating 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. The project team is gathering and analysing a wealth of publications and materials: journals, literature, life stories, photographs, collections of memorabilia and other forms of representation. They are tracing 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.

Working closely with researchers from the different subject areas of Modern Languages and other arts and social science disciplines, the project is working to demonstrate the principle that language is most productively apprehended in the frame of translation and the national in the frame of the transnational. Through its inter-disciplinary approach, its harnessing of new resources, and its establishment of new research frameworks, the project is acting as a model for language disciplines and as a means to enhance public understanding of the role of Modern Languages in the context of globalization.

Looking beyond academic disciplines and questions, this research is developing our 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 have invited school students and adult learners to explore everyday practices of translating culture.

The AHRC funds this project under their Translating Cultures theme to address the need for better understanding and communication between and across diverse cultures. It looks at the role of translation, understood in its broadest sense, in the transmission, interpretation and sharing of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives.

Download the detailed project description.