Researching Multilingually at the Borders of Language, the Body, Law & the State

"For many who are in pain and under pressure, telling their story in their mother tongue is extremely difficult. Courts, border agencies and other parts of the state that interact with refugees and those seeking asylum often use crude mechanisms that means much is lost in translation."
Prof Alison Phipps

The research project will seek to explore the difficult area of translation and interpretation, working in partnership with a wide variety of partners that includes Creative Scotland and the Scottish Refugee Council. International academics from Bulgaria, Arizona and Gaza will come together with those from the University of Glasgow in innovative ways to examine some of the issues that occur during interpretation and translation. 

The project will also use innovative means of disseminating the information. Artists and musicians from Pan African Arts Scotland will work with the participants to recreate the stories of individuals involved in the research. Gameli Tordzro of Pan African Arts Scotland said “Art can also be a language for research, and can express what is inexpressible in other media.”

Dr Gibb will lead on a case study entitled ‘Working and Researching Multilingually at State (and European Union) Borders’. This case study will have two principal objectives:

  1. To compare multilingual working practices and processes of translation and interpretation at state (and external EU) borders and in refugee status determination procedures in Bulgaria and Romania;
  2. To analyse the wider structural contexts in both countries (including national legislation, EU directives, recent EU projects, and the relationship between international organisations such as the UNHCR, national NGOs and the state), with regard in particular to the recruitment and training of interpreters to work in asylum cases and at state (and external EU) borders.


  • Dr Robert A Gibb (School of Social & Political Sciences)
  • Prof Alison Phipps (GRAMNET)
  • Sarah E Craig (School of Law)
  • Dr Ross White (Institute of Health and Wellbeing)


1 April 2014-30 March 2017


Arts and Humanities Research Council: ‘Translating Cultures’ programme Large Grant (£1,968,749)