Researching Multilingually at the borders of Language, the Body, Law and the State

The project was a collaboration between seven academic institutions (international and UK) and third sector organisations.

The international team of researchers, with their different disciplinary backgrounds, research experiences, language and performance skills, conducted international comparative research on translation and interpretation at different kinds of borders and used the research to develop theory, ethical research practices and research methodologies in relation to multilingual research.


This international project built on the groundwork from the Researching Multilingually team (

The two main aims were:

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.


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

Our hubs were:

RMTC – Researching Multilingually and Translating Cultures

CATC – Creative Arts and Translating Cultures

Our case studies were:

  1. Translating the Experience of Emotional Distress
  2. Translating Vulnerability and Silence into the Legal Process
  3. Working and Researching Multilingually at State (and European Union) Borders
  4. Multilingual Ecologies in the American Southwest Borderlands
  5. Teaching Arabic to Speakers of Other Languages (TASOL)

The case studies had been carefully selected according to the following criteria:

(i)  Each focused on a border at which under-researched processes and practices of translation and interpretation occurred, ones which brought into question the limits of language and translatability;

(ii)  Each represented a multilingual research site where research would be conducted multilingually using a variety of methods;

(iii)  Each presented opportunities for exploring the theory, methods and ethics of researching multilingually;

(iv)  Each built on previously funded research and specific findings.

For each case study, the methods selected were those appropriate for analysing practices of translation, interpretation and representation in that particular context.

For more information about the outcomes and the specific case studies, please see



PI and Co-Is - International Collaborators

PI: Professor Alison Phipps – Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies and UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts at the University of Glasgow


Jane Andrews – Lecturer in Education at the University of the West of England

Richard Fay – Lecturer in Education at the University of Manchester

Prue Holmes – Professor in International and Intercultural Education at the University of Durham

Nazmi Al-Masri – Associate Professor of Language Teacher Education for TEFL at the Islamic University of Gaza, Palestine

Sarah Craig – former Senior Lecturer in the School of Law at the University of Glasgow

Dr Robert Gibb – Lecturer in Sociology at the University of Glasgow

David Gramling – Associate Professor of German Studies at the University of Arizona, USA

Chantelle Warner – Associate Professor of German and Second Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Arizona, USA

Ross White – Reader in Clinical Psychology at the University of Liverpool

Karin Zwaan – Researcher in Sociology and Migration Law at Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Start and End Date

01 April 2014 - 31 March 2017

Funder and Funding Amount

The Arts and Humanities Research Council through the Translating Cultures Theme

Award: £1,968,749

AHRC Grant Ref: AH/L006936/1

Related Publications

Andrews, J., Attia, M., Fay, R. and Holmes, P. (2015). “Coming clean” about researching multilingually – what can we learn from mapping diverse approaches in different disciplines?

Breda, J. van, and Zwaan, K. (2015). Kroniek Advisering. Ontwikkelingen juni 2014-september 2015. In: Asiel & Migrantenrecht, Vol. 6 (9/10), pp. 406-417.

Craig, S. (2014). Case comment: Secretary of State for the Home Dept v MN. Journal of Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Law, 28(3), pp. 293-296.

Davcheva, L. and Fay, R. (2014). Tales of Ladino: Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria speak about their heritage language. In: Bet Debora, Vol.1, pp. 86-97.

Fassetta, G. , Phipps, A. and Imperiale, M. G. (2016) Review essay. Hospitality and Society, 6(2), pp. 183 192. (doi: 10.1386/hosp.6.2.183_7)

Fay, R. and Andrews, J. (2018). From linguistic preparation to developing a translingual mind-set – possible implications of plurilingualism for researcher education. In: J. Choi, S. Ollerhead and M. French (eds.), Plurilingualism in learning and teaching: complexities across contexts (pp. 220-233). London: Routledge.

Fay, R. and Davcheva L. (2016). Zones of interculturality and linguistic identity: tales of Ladino by Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria. In P. Holmes, M. Dooly and J.P. O’Regan (eds.), Intercultural dialogue: questions of research, theory and practice (pp. 24-40). London: Routledge.

Fay, R. and Stelma, J. (2016). Criticality, intentionality and intercultural action. In M. Dasli and A. Diaz (eds.), The critical turn in language and intercultural communication pedagogy. pp.120-146, London: Routledge.

Fay, R. and Davcheva, L. (2014). Zones of interculturality and linguistic identity: Tales of Ladino by Sephardic Jews in Bulgaria. In: Language and Intercultural Communication, Vol.14(1), pp. 24-40.

Frimberger, K. (2016). Hearing-as-touch in a multilingual film interview: The interviewer’s linguistic incompetence as aesthetic key moment. International Multilingual Research Journal, 10(2), pp. 107-120. Download here: .

Frimberger, K. (2016). Towards a well-being focussed language pedagogy: enabling arts-based, multilingual learning spaces for young people with refugee backgrounds. Pedagogy, Culture & Society, 24(2), 285-299. Download here:

Frimberger, K., White, R. and Ma, L. (2017), ‘If I didn’t know you what would you want me to see?’: Poetic mappings in neo-materialist research with young asylum seekers and refugees. In: Applied Linguistics Review, Special Issue (Special Issue on Visual Methods).  Doi: 10.1515/applirev-2016-1061

Gibb, R., and Danero Iglesias, J. (2017), Breaking the silence (again): on language learning and levels of fluency in ethnographic research. In: Sociological Review, Vol. 65(1), pp. 134-149. (doi:10.1111/1467-954X.12389)

Gibb, R. and Danero Iglesias, J. (2018) Blurred vision? 'Superdiversity' as a lens in research on communication in border contexts. In: Creese, A. and Blackledge, A. (eds.) The Routledge Handbook of Language and Superdiversity. Series: Routledge handbooks in applied linguistics. Routledge, pp. 89-102. ISBN 9781138905092

Gibb, R., Tremlett, A. and Danero Iglesias, J. (Eds.) (2019) Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Research. Series: Researching multilingually. Multilingual Matters: Bristol. ISBN 9781788925914 (In Press)

Gibb, R. (2019) ‘Demystifying’ multilingual fieldwork: on the importance of documenting and reflecting on language learning in ethnographic research. In: Gibb, R., Tremlett, A. and Danero Iglesias, J. (eds.) Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Research. Series: Researching multilingually. Multilingual Matters: Bristol. ISBN 9781788925914 (In Press)

Gibb, R. , Tremlett, A. and Danero Iglesias, J. (2019) Conclusion. In: Gibb, R., Tremlett, A. and Danero Iglesias, J. (eds.) Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Research. Series: Researching multilingually. Multilingual Matters: Bristol. ISBN 9781788925914 (In Press)

Gibb, R. , Tremlett, A. and Danero Iglesias, J. (2019) Introduction. In: Gibb, R., Tremlett, A. and Danero Iglesias, J. (eds.) Learning and Using Languages in Ethnographic Research. Series: Researching multilingually. Multilingual Matters: Bristol. ISBN 9781788925914 (In Press)

Gramling, D. (2014), Getting up onto Monolingualism: Barthes, Kafka, Myth. In: Minnaards, L. and Dembeck, T., eds. Challenging the Myth of Monolingualism, Brill Rodopi, pp. 15–38 (24).

Gramling, D. (2016), Zur Mehrsprachigkeitsforschung in der interkulturellen Literaturwissenschaft: Wende, Romanze, Rückkehr? In: Heimböckel, D., Mein, G., Schiewer, G.L. and Sieburg, H. (eds.), Zeitschrift für interkulturelle Germanistik, Vol. 7(1). pp.135-150.

Gramling, D. (2016), Translanguagers and the Concentrationary Universe. In: Wolf, M. Ed. Interpreting in Nazi Concentration Camps, Bloomsbury, pp. 43-60.

Gramling, D. (2016), Hysterical Postsecularism. In: Cultural Critique, Vol. 93, pp. 86-112. Download here:

Gramling, D. (2016), The Invention of Monolingualism, Bloomsbury Academic.

Gramling, D. (2016), Seven Types of Multilingualism: Or, Wim Wenders Enfilms Pina Bausch. In: The Multilingual Screen New Reflections on Cinema and Linguistic Difference, Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 37-56.

Gramling, D. (2015), Multilingual and Intercultural Competence on the Threshold of the Third Reich. In: Jessner, U. and Kramsch, C. eds. The Multilingual Challenge, De Gruyter Mouton, pp. 161-184.

Gramling, D. and Hepkaner, I. (2016), Translating the Translingual Novel in Early Turkish Republican Literature: The Case of Sabahattin Ali. In: Authorizing Translation: Literature, Theory and Translation, yearbook of the International Association for Translation and Intercultural Studies (IATIS), pp. 32-46.

Gramling, D. and Dutta. A. (eds.) (2016), Translating Transgender, Vol. 3(3-4) of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly, Duke University Press. Abstract here:

Gramling, D. (2016), Researching Multilingually in German Studies: A Brief Retrospective. In: German Studies Review, Vol 39(3), pp. 529-540. Excerpt here:

Gramling, D. and Warner, C. (2016), Whose ‘Crisis in Language’? How Translingual Students Critically Reframe the Future of Foreign Language Learning. In: L2 Journal, Vol. 8 (4), pp. 76-99. Download here:

Holmes, P. (2016), Navigating languages and interculturality in the research process : the ethics and positionality of the researcher and the researched. In: M. Dasli and A. Diaz (eds.), The critical turn in intercultural communication pedagogy : theory, research and practice. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, pp. 91-108.

Holmes, P., Fay, R., Andrews, J. and Attia, M. (2016), How to research multilingually: Possibilities and complexities. In: Zhu, H., ed. (2016) Research Methods in Intercultural Communication: A Practical Guide. New York: Wiley Blackwell, pp. 88-102.

Huang, Z., Fay, R., & White, R. (2017), Mindfulness and the ethics of intercultural knowledge-work. Language and Intercultural Communication, 17(1), pp. 45-57.

Imperiale, M.G. (2017), A Capability Approach to Language Education in the Gaza Strip: “To Plant Hope in a Land of Despair”. In: Critical Multilingualism Studies, Vol. 5(1).

Imperiale M.G., Phipps A., Al-Masri N., and Fassetta G. (2017) Pedagogies of hope and resistance: English language education in the context of the Gaza Strip, Palestine. In: English Across the Fracture Lines: the contribution and relevance of English to security, stability and peace. Erling, E. J. (Ed). British Council. Read here:

Martin-Jones, M., Andrews, J. and Martin, D. (2016), Reflexive ethnographic research practice in multilingual contexts. In: Martin-Jones, M. and Martin, D., eds. (2016) Researching Multilingualism: Critical and Ethnographic Approaches. London: Routledge, pp. 189-202.

Paul, S. and Ferguson, D. (2017), Guide to Supporting Detainees in Immigration Bail Hearings in Scotland:

Phipps, A. (2019) Decolonising Multilingualism: Struggles to Decreate. Series: Writing without borders. Multilingual Matters. ISBN 9781788924054

Phipps, A. and Sitholé, T. (2018) The Warriors Who Do Not Fight. Wild Goose Publications: Glasgow. ISBN 9781849526005

Phipps, A. (2017), Time for action against the far-right is now. In: The National, 30 Jan. 2017. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2017), Policies designed to keep refugees in limbo do nothing to promote integration. In: The National, 13 March 2017. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2017), One day without us… here’s what the history book might say in 20 years. In: The National, 21 Feb. 2017. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2016), Brutal baying for teeth, blood and bones for children trying to escape the Jungle. In: The National, 24 Oct. 2016. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2016), Government has shut the door on 3,000 children like my foster daughter. In: The National, 27 April 2016. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2016), My four days in hell: a Calais diary by Professor Alison Phipps. In: The National, 9 April 2016. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2016), When homes and lives are destroyed we need practical aid and solidarity. In: The National, 2 April 2016. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2015), Refugees dead or alive – an ‘existential challenge’. In: The National, 23 Dec. 2015. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2015), More tears will be shed when The Story of Exile gets worse. In: The National, 2 Dec. 2015. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2015), Refugee plans tear up the treaties created to protect the innocent. In: The National, 8 Oct. 2015. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2015), Agenda: May should be ashamed of an immigration plan that descends into darkness. In: The Herald, 8 Oct. 2015. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2015), How hosting refugees can help make your life much richer. In: The National, 8 Sept. 2015. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2015), Refugee crisis: How should the Government and the EU address it? A 10-point plan by Alison Phipps. In: The National, 5 Sept. 2015. Read here:

Phipps, A. (2014) ‘They are bombing now’: ‘Intercultural Dialogue’ in times of conflict. In: Language and Intercultural Communication, 14(1), pp. 108-124. Abstract here:

Phipps. A. and Fassetta, G. (2015), A critical analysis of language policy in Scotland. In: European Journal of Language Policy, Vol. 7(1), pp. 5-27. Download here:

Spadaro, B., Burdett, C., Creese, A., Forsdick, C. and Phipps, A. (2019) In conversation: translating cultures. Translator, 25(4), pp. 420-433. (doi: 10.1080/13556509.2019.1735211)

White, R. G., Imperiale, M. G., and Perera, E. (2016), The capabilities approach: fostering contexts for enhancing mental health and wellbeing across the globe. In: Globalization and Health, 12, 16. Abstract here:

White, R., Fay, R., Kasujja, R. and Okalo, P. (2015), Global mental health: the importance of contextual sensitivity and appropriate methodologies. In: MAGic 2015 Anthropology and Global Health: Interrogating Theory, Policy and Practice, 09 Sep 2015-11 Sep 2015; University of Sussex, Brighton, UK. Abstract here:

Zwaan, K. (2015), Van A tot Z; de uitspraken van het Hof van Justitie betreffende homoseksuele asielzoekers. In: Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Europees Recht, Vol. 21, pp. 49-54 . Summary here:

Project News

The project team developed new theoretical, conceptual and empirical understandings of processes and practices of translation, interpretation and representation, and also of researching multilingually practices within one integrated project.

The RM Borders project considered for 3 years what it means to conduct research in multiple field sites using multiple languages and to incorporate elements of the creative and performing arts. The political crises and violence affecting refugees, most notably though not exclusively in Europe, came to the fore during the project (Refugee “Crisis” of 2015) and provided a significant contextual impetus for the creative and translation process which led to a dance production (Broken World, Broken Word) devised with the young people of Noyam African Dance Institute and scored by the Ha Orchestra. Ha Orchestra was founded in 2014 by Dr Gameli Tordzro, as part of his PhD with the RM Borders project. The Ha Orchestra is the first professional African Symphonic Orchestra in Scotland

Ongoing, generative relationships between artists, linguists and researcher culminated in the piece which is a representation of the epic story of exile, war, persecution, resistance and safety told through many different academic and artistic media.

Broken World, Broken Word was performed in Dodowa, Accra, Ghana at the conclusion of RM Borders. The piece was also performed at the Inauguration of the UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration through Languages and the Arts and the Solas Arts and Culture Festival 2017. The collaboration was shortlisted for a UofG Knowledge exchange award in 2017. 


  • Inaugural Lecture 2017
  • Solas 2017

The performance and accompanying documentary can be viewed online:


The work and partnerships developed through RM Borders underpinned further research awards involving PI Phipps including:

The RM Borders work provided critical mass for the award of the UNESCO Chair to the University in Jan 2017 and continues to inform aspects of the New Scots Integration Strategy 2018-22.

Further information on presentations and publications can be found on the project website:

Associated blogs or Twitter feeds