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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

PLEASE NOTE THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELLED - Mediating Emergencies Conference

Room ER201, Elvet Riverside, New Elvet

After a landslide, a tsunami, an earthquake and other natural disasters, the arrival of humanitarian organizations, NGOs, and individuals from around the world has become a demonstration of international solidarity. Medical operations and rescue operations takes precedence, then reconstruction and collaboration with the local authorities to understand the large mass of data on the causes, effects, and consequences of the event begin. Yet, project managing rescue operations, task forces, and their immediate follow-up activities in situations of danger and disaster and coordinating groups of rescuers and local people with different nationalities, emergency procedures,
languages, and social behaviour remain problems of mediation.

Little research exists on the individuals who act as either language (including Sign Languages) or culture interpreters (or translators of documentation relating to the rescue missions) during rescue operations and for emergencies. Undeniably some common languages, or lingua franca, such as Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, French and English would often be shared among rescue teams. Multi-ethnic backgrounds, regions of minority languages, and contexts of conflict do amplify the communication problems between international rescuing missions and local populations. Organisation of the data – medical records, legal claims, documentations, etc. – is also a technological issue especially for translators whose work will follow the immediate response to the emergency and will initiate all the following process of collaboration and coordination, which naturally require legal evidence and documentation. 

What happens to medical translation and public service interpreting in such circumstances? Which systems are different international organizations using? Who is researching technologies to support in these events? Who is training interpreters and translators to actively support rescue teams and NGOs in these circumstances? What type of data needs immediate handling in interpreting emergencies? What technological support do interpreters and translator need? 

Mediating Emergencies is coordinated by Dr Federico Federici (School of Modern Languages and Cultures). The international conference Translating Voices, Translating Regions (October 2014), aimed at bringing together stakeholders (UN, EC, and NGOs), associations of professionals (International Federation of Translators/Interpreters) as well as academics specialising in Interpreting Studies and Interpreter training, officially launches the programme. Academic keynotes will start an interdisciplinary debate on areas of importance to communities and institutions alike. A further workshop, Coordinating the Aftermath: the culture barrier will follow-up the discussions and debates initiated in the conference. 

Researchers who would like to express an interest in being invited to participate in these events should contact and also see:

Contact for more information about this event.