Modern languages

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How can aid agencies effectively support communities and ‘listen to their needs’ if their staff don’t speak the local language? In an article written for The Conversation, Professor Hilary Footitt and Dr Wine Tesseur tell us about their research which sheds light on the issues and identifies ways to address them.

Reproduced under Creative Commons licence

After the Oxfam sexual exploitation scandal in Haiti hit the headlines earlier this year, 22 aid agencies published an open letter declaring that they would “take every step to right our wrongs and eradicate abuse in our industry”. They made a commitment to “listen and take action”.

There is nothing new about NGOs claiming that they “listen” to communities and act on their feedback. A cursory glance at NGO publicity materials reveals that they typically claim that they empower communities by listening and involving them in decisions about aid projects.

It is therefore reasonable to assume that aid workers share the same language as local communities (or at least that they use good interpreters). Otherwise, how could aid providers and aid recipients communicate with one another effectively? You might also assume that it is relatively easy to translate basic development terms into local languages. Development NGOs promote common goals, such as gender equality and human rights. Surely organisations must use common interpretations of these words when interacting with the people that they aim to help?

But our research suggests that this is typically not the case. We conducted a three-year project to explore the role of languages in international development, in conjunction with UK-based NGO INTRAC. We interviewed dozens of NGOs, officials from the UK’s Department of International Development (DfID), and conducted field research in developing countries. Our data led us to arrive at three startling conclusions.

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The Department of English Literature are pleased to announce the Archives & Texts seminar for March. This is part of an interdisciplinary research seminar series on book history co-organized by the Departments of English and Modern Languages at the University of Reading.

The seminars aim is to bring together colleagues and students interested in the broad field of book history: including theories, methodologies, new insights into literature and literary history, collections and different types of archives. It is for all those interested in the history of the book, reading, publishing, editing, print, typography, design, image and text, as well those who use archives or are involved in archives.

 

Thursday 8th March (wk 9), 5-6pm
Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (Centre for Publishing, UCL)
‘The Social Author: Identifying a new generation of influencers and innovators in contemporary authorship’

Vist the Archives and Texts blog for further details

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The Department of English Literature are pleased to announce the Archives & Texts seminar for February. This is an interdisciplinary research seminar series on book history co-organized by the Departments of English and Modern Languages at the University of Reading.

The seminars aim is to bring together colleagues and students interested in the broad field of book history: including theories, methodologies, new insights into literature and literary history, collections and different types of archives. It is for all those interested in the history of the book, reading, publishing, editing, print, typography, design, image and text, as well those who use archives or are involved in archives.

Thursday 8th Feb (wk 5), 5-6pm
Dr Daisy Hay (English, Exeter)
‘Dinner with Joseph Johnson: On a Romantic bookseller and group biography’

Further seminar in March:

Thursday 8th March (wk 9), 5-6pm
Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (Centre for Publishing, UCL)
‘The Social Author: Identifying a new generation of influencers and innovators in contemporary authorship’

Vist the Archives and Texts blog for further details

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The Department of English Literature are pleased to announce that the Archives & Texts seminar series is starting back up again this term. This is an interdisciplinary research seminar series on book history co-organized by the Departments of English and Modern Languages at the University of Reading.

The seminars aim is to bring together colleagues and students interested in the broad field of book history: including theories, methodologies, new insights into literature and literary history, collections and different types of archives. It is for all those interested in the history of the book, reading, publishing, editing, print, typography, design, image and text, as well those who use archives or are involved in archives.

Three great sessions are lined up in Edith Morley, room G10, where all are welcome.

Thursday 18th January (wk 2), 5-6pm
Dr Cathy Clay (English, Nottingham Trent)
‘Rereading the Time and Tide Archive: The Feminist and Cultural Politics of a Modern Magazine’

Further Seminars:

Thursday 8th Feb (wk 5), 5-6pm
Dr Daisy Hay (English, Exeter)
‘Dinner with Joseph Johnson: On a Romantic bookseller and group biography’

Thursday 8th March (wk 9), 5-6pm
Dr Melanie Ramdarshan Bold (Centre for Publishing, UCL)
‘The Social Author: Identifying a new generation of influencers and innovators in contemporary authorship’

Vist the Archives and Texts blog for further details

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