Edited by Hendrik J. Kockaert
[The Journal of Internationalization and Localization 9:2] 2022
► pp. 180–205
Access to healthcare information for Thailand’s migrants remains a challenge throughout the COVID-19 crisis, despite the Thai government’s efforts to support this vulnerable group. This study investigates the Thai authorities’ approach of health communication for migrant workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and the role and network of translators/interpreters as the state’s agent by adopting the concepts of translation and interpreting in crisis communication and actor-network theory. This article focuses primarily on Myanmar translators/interpreters in the Thai context. The findings show that the state’s translation/interpreting efforts during the pandemic were lackadaisical in meeting such linguistic demands for migrants who have contributed significantly to Thailand’s economic growth for more than two decades. Despite the state’s adoption of a national language policy, Thai linguistic nationalism remains dominant. Such a move appears to unintentionally contain the sense of ‘foreign contamination’ brought to Thailand by these ‘inferior’ nationals but stands in stark contradiction to their trans-border language demands. Furthermore, the existing network of Thai translators/interpreters, which should assist the government in strengthening health communication for disadvantaged communities, is underdeveloped. Competing factions, non-inclusive member recruiting, and a particular priority on language pairs all thwart the network’s establishment process. The private hospitals’ translators/interpreters for Myanmar are not strongly affiliated with professional networks but with an imbalanced structure of networking.