Case study 3

Working and Researching Multilingually at State (and European Union) Borders

What kinds of translation and interpretation processes take place at state (and external EU) borders, in reception centres for asylum applicants and other migrants, in official asylum interviews, and in meetings between migrants and legal/NGO representatives in Bulgaria and Romania? Who works as translators and interpreters in these different settings, what are their roles, and how are they recruited and trained? How do these processes and practices promote and/or restrict effective intercultural communication and the exercise of rights to international protection in both countries?

This case study has two principal objectives:

  1. To compare multilingual working practices and processes of translation and interpretation at state (and external EU) borders and in refugee status determination procedures in Bulgaria and Romania;
  2. To analyse the wider structural contexts in both countries (including national legislation, EU directives, recent EU projects, and the relationship between international organisations such as the UNHCR, national NGOs and the state), with regard in particular to the recruitment, payment and training of interpreters to work in asylum cases and at state (and external EU) borders.

The research will involve a combination of the following methods:

  1. Observation. Central to the research will be observational studies of the activities of selected state agencies, NGOs, legal representatives and interpreters, mainly through working as an intern and/or shadowing key staff members.
  2. Semi-Structured Interviews. Key staff will be interviewed about their multilingual working practices and training, and the processes of interpretation and translation in which they are involved. If possible, asylum applicants themselves will also be interviewed.
  3. Analysis of Documentary Data. Case law, codes of practice for border guards, asylum case-workers and interpreters, and other relevant documents will be analysed in both countries.

The research will be conducted by Robert Gibb (Bulgaria) and Julien Danero Iglesias (Romania).