Interpreters as technologies of care and control?
Language support for refugees in Britain following the 1956 Hungarian uprising
This article investigates aspects of intercultural communication in institutional interaction with refugees in Britain following the 1956 Hungarian uprising. Their arrival, against a backdrop of Cold War politics and the ongoing Suez crisis, constituted Britain’s first test as a signatory to the 1951 UN Convention on the Status of Refugees. While accounts of displaced persons in 20th century Britain mention communication problems, the impact of interpreters on the early phases of refugee reception can be better understood only through systematic research into their lived experiences and those of their interlocutors: this should include social attitudes and recruitment practices. The use of non-professional interpreters in the period concerned is examined in relation to the metaphor of the interpreter as a technology of care and control, which also serves as a broader critique of post-war refugee treatment in Britain. Contributing to the growing body of interpreting scholarship that explores the sociology of agents and structures in the translation process, the article focuses primarily on the actors concerned with translatorial activity in the many reception camps set up at that time. Artefacts from the National Archives and accounts from the field help identify institutional approaches to mass population displacement, and related discourses about (and by) interpreters.
- 1.Non-professional interpreters and interpreting studies
- 2.Metaphors of interpreting: Interpreters as technologies of care and control
- 3.Post-war migration to Britain: Structural constraints and lived experience
- 3.1Balt Cygnet
- 3.2Language, public order and social control
- 4.The Hungarian refugee crisis
- 4.1Interpreter recruitment: Navigating forms of capital in service provision
- 5.Interpreters in camp life: Accounts from the field
- 5.1Communication issues in meeting the healthcare needs of refugees