Book of Abstracts




Isabel Moreno López

Spanglish: A Tool of Empowerment or “Una Trampa”?

Spanglish has been described as an Anglicized Spanish dialect, a lingua franca, a pidgin, an interlanguage, a Creole language, street slang or a complex form of code-switching. In any one of its diverse variations, Spanglish is the language spoken by a variety of communities who share the Latinx heritage in the United States. For some, it represents the most important contemporary linguistic phenomenon the US has experienced.  For others, it is described as “la trampa” that Latinx face in their journey to assimilation. Yet others, describe it as a metaphor for the mixed-raced cultures that coexist under what is known as the Latinx population. Its different definitions stem from issues of power, identity and hegemony. In written literary texts, using Spanish in an English text can be viewed as a political act of resistance. However, putting foreign words in texts has also been interpreted as an attempt to give the text an exotic touch, further “othering” the cultures it portrays. In all accounts, the use of Spanglish has political ramifications. Is it the means of empowering the Latinx community by exposing it to non-Spanish speakers; or does it marginalize the Latinx community even further, commodifying it for the pleasure of the White gaze?

Roberto A. Valdeón

Translation and the myth of mediation

In this talk, I would like to discuss the role of translation (or the absence of it) in the creation, dissemination and manipulation of information. Starting with an overview of some of the uses of translation as a concept in translation and communication studies, I will move on to suggest that translation has traditionally contributed to the creation and dissemination of misleading or inaccurate images of other groups or individuals, and has been used as a tool for manipulation rather than an instrument of mediation. The discussion, which will draw on concepts such as gatekeeping (which has been widely used by journalism scholars and, more recently, in translation studies as well) and ideological affinity (drawing on the concept of bureacratic affinity proposed by Mark Fishman in 1980), will discuss examples from the United States, China and Spain to show that the initiators of translations do not necessarily aim to mediate or communicate but rather to impose, manipulate or suppress in a more or less deliberate manner. The examples will include the presence/absence of translations in museums of the colonial period in the US, the emergence of foreign-language news media in China and the role of translation in news media such as El País and The New York Times.

John Corbett

Revisiting Mediation

It is often claimed that the interculturally competent speaker can mediate between cultures. This presentation revisits the concept of mediation in intercultural language education and considers it from a number of different perspectives. What roles do mediators play in intercultural engagements? What kinds of knowledge and skills do mediators require? How do we conceptualize the cultures that are being mediated? How do we judge when mediation has been a success or failure? Are there ‘scripts’ that a good mediator can follow – and how might an expert mediator move beyond such ‘scripts’? The presentation will focus on mediation in different intercultural situations and consider its use in intercultural language pedagogy. The presentation draws upon case studies currently being done under for a UK Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)-funded project on `Building an intercultural pedagogy for higher education in conditions of conflict and protracted crises: Languages, identity, culture.’ These case studies conceptualise the academy – in areas as diverse as Bogota, Durham, Gaza and Istanbul – as mediating between higher education and members of communities who have been economically and politically marginalised. These case studies thus involve different layers of mediation, which can be unpacked, reviewed and critically evaluated.

Sandra López-Rocha

Re-focusing the Development of Critical Intercultural Competence in Higher Education: Challenges and Opportunities

The increased transcultural mobility of students has prompted HE institutions to invest considerable efforts in incorporating the development of intercultural competencies in their internationalization agendas. Programs fostering study and work abroad have focused on the preparation of students ahead of their international experience, have adjusted the requirements of tasks involving intercultural elements, and have paid closer attention to the experience of returning students. However, critical elements of intercultural competence development often seem to be assumed by the experience of transcultural mobility instead of directly integrating it in the curriculum and institutional programming. What are we leaving out? What are we missing? Critical Intercultural Competence (CIC) development encourages a more embracing comprehension of intrinsic and extrinsic socio-cultural and linguistic issues and enables interlocutors to negotiate meanings with a deeper understanding of contexts and perspectives. Incorporating CIC ahead of student mobility, for example, requires a reassessment of current practices to address why, what, and how of our intercultural programming. The intention is to become more aware as practitioners and move beyond surface and limiting dichotomies such as “our” and “their” culture, and work towards a more integral understanding of issues, such as displacements, linguistic distinctiveness, belonging, cultural imperatives, and the relationship between CIC, employability, and socio-cultural proficiency of students at home and abroad.