Translingual networks

Investigating affective regimes of online sociality in digital culture

This project studies two activist networks that rely on volunteer subtitling as a means to promote various causes across linguacultures.

Engagemedia (EM), the first of these networks, ‘works with independent film-makers, journalists, technologists, campaigners and social movements to generate wider audiences for stories of social change, to intervene in the public discourse and to move people to action’. Under the umbrella of its Lingua Project, Engagemedia has created a Southeast Asia network of ‘human rights and environmental translators and subtitlers’ that enables the circulation of progressive video content across the hundreds of languages spoken in the region.

Global Voices (GV), the second of the collectivities chosen for this study, presents itself as ‘a volunteer community of more than 1400 writers, analysts, online media experts, and translators’ that curates, verifies and translates ‘the most compelling and important stories coming from marginalized and misrepresented communities’ into a wide range of languages.

The project will employ a range of techniques including analysis of material, interviews with editors and contributors, surveys of group membership and participant observation. Researchers aim to gain insight into the affective structures that individuals build collectively once they have joined a virtual community of deliberation, as well as the affectivity flows that operate in these communities of digital self-mediation.

Digital Humanities and Translingual Communities

The Digital Humanities subproject within the strand focuses on technology-driven forms of communication and representation, concentrating on social and other digital media generated by language communities in the UK. This will involve a series of shorter projects working with key partners and collaborating institutions such as the British Library and the Royal Opera House, with the aim of developing pioneering research questions and methodologies for working with digital media.

Community engagement will be a primary focus, exploring both how language communities in the UK make use of digital technologies to promote themselves and their concerns across languages and cultures, as well as how this translingual reality can be more effectively represented within the UK’s digital archives and collections. More widely, the project will demonstrate how a linguistically sensitive approach to Digital Humanities research can be articulated.

Research team

Luis Pérez-González (Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies, University of Manchester)

Jane Winters (Chair in Digital Humanities, School of Advanced Study, University of London)

Naomi Wells (Postdoctoral Research Associate, IMLR, School of Advanced Study, University of London)