An Interview with Susan Bassnett

6 September 2011

This year we published Reflections on Translation by Susan Bassnett which brings together her key essays on translation. We asked her a few questions about her work.

Reflections on Translation

Reflections on Translation

What inspired you to study translation?
I never thought about translation as something to be studied, but from earliest childhood there was always more than one language in my head, so you could say that I was never not translating. That personal dimension then fed into my thinking about translation, hence this book is a personal account of one woman’s engagement with translation  that also tackles sociopolitical and linguistic issues from a professional perspective.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
This book is different from other books on translation because it consists of short essays written for everyone who has an interest, however small, in what translation involves.

Which researchers in your field do you particularly admire?
I have always admired people who can communicate outside the confines of their special field. I respect the scholarship of many theorists and critics who write in a style and languages that are only intelligible to a small elite group of followers, but I admire those people who can reach out to the many. My good friend the late Andre Lefevere was just such a writer, as are Edwin Gentzler, Sherry Simon, Michael Cronin and other key figures in the field of translation.


Susan Bassnett

What books – either for work or for pleasure – are you reading at the moment?
I read anything and everything. For years now, I have had a personal reading strategy, whereby every year I read some classic work that I managed to miss, I reread something, I select a poet and read his or her complete works and then I read whatever comes my way. This year I was a judge for the Dublin IMPAC prize, so I had over 160 novels to read before the judging meeting in June. I loved the winner, Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin. Right now I am rereading all the Patrick O’Brien seafaring novels about Jack Aubrey and Dr Maturin, having taken Sir Walter Scott’s Redgauntlet on holiday, along with a book on Celtic spirituality and Edmond de Waal’s marvellous The Hare with Amber Eyes.

What do you think you might have done if you hadn’t pursued a career in academia?
I never wanted to be an academic, I wanted to be a full time writer. I tried twice to earn my living outside academia, but never managed it. However, the compensation of academic life is the constant engagement with the brightest people of the next generation. It keeps one young and on one’s toes.

What are your plans for future research?
I am finishing a book on translation for the Routledge New Critical Idiom series, and will then revise Translation Studies for its 4th edition. This book came out in 1980 and seems to be more popular now than ever, which amazes and delights me. Then I would like to spend more time on my poetry, though I am also committed to finishing a translation of one of Luigi Pirandello’s later plays that is not well known at all in the English-speaking world. I like to have several projects on the go at the same time.


An Interview with Dong Jie

25 August 2011

Having just published Discourse, Identity, and China’s Internal Migration by Dong Jie we wanted to know a bit more about her and her research so we asked her a few questions.

Why did you choose to research discourse and identity in China?
Questions on language and identity are always close to my heart, especially those on China because it is a rapidly changing society where new patterns emerge and negotiate with the old ones.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
My book looks at identities at various scale levels that interact in the same ‘synchronic’ realities.

If you had the time and resources, and a willing publisher, what would be your dream book project?
My dream book project would be a monograph on my ethnographic fieldwork journey in Beijing, a dynamic global city that witnesses fascinating encounters between different traditions, values, and languages.

Which researchers in your field do you particularly admire?
Quite a number of scholars have impacts on my research, such as Jan Blommaert, Sjaak Kroon, Ben Rampton, Li Wei, Gao Yihong, Normann Jørgensen, Dell Hymes (through Jan Blommaert), John Gumperz, Michael Silverstein, Nancy Hornberger, to name just a few.

What’s your favourite place that you’ve travelled in the course of your research?
Yun Nan Province in south China

What books – either for work or for pleasure – are you reading at the moment?
I am re-reading Bourdieu’s Distinction and Logic of Practice.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing books?
Travelling, cooking, swimming.


An Interview with Dallen Timothy

4 August 2011

With his new textbook Cultural Heritage and Tourism just published we asked Dallen Timothy a few questions about what inspires his research.

What inspired you to study tourism and in particular heritage tourism?
While I was undertaking my undergraduate studies, I had an opportunity to become the co-owner of a travel agency, so I changed my major from linguistics and international relations to geography, which is where the tourism degree was situated at my undergraduate institution. The business deal fell through, thankfully, but I ended up being devoted to geography and in particular to the geography of tourism. As I began learning about the world of tourism and its many perspectives and manifestations, I became more interested in furthering my education to understand the phenomenon of tourism. I completed a master’s degree in political/cultural geography at the University of Western Ontario, Canada, and then completed a PhD in the geography of tourism at the University of Waterloo, Canada. I was blessed to work with great mentors like Lloyd Hudman, Richard Butler and Geoff Wall during my undergraduate and graduate years. How could one not be interested in tourism research with these remarkable mentors? As for heritage, since I was a small child I have always been interested in archaeological sites and historic places, and the events and people that accompanied them. It is a truly deep passion for me, not just a job, but a lifelong, serious endeavour. Naturally I gravitated to this subfield within tourism studies, and it has been extremely satisfying.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
It provides the most comprehensive overview of cultural heritage and tourism heretofore published and is a state of the art assessment of the field. It focuses on the social science aspects of heritage tourism but also delves into many of the management issues and how these can be dealt with to make heritage places more sustainable and the tourism that revolves around them more destination-friendly. Also unique is the book’s second half, which examines various subtypes of cultural/heritage tourism in greater detail and relates each one’s characteristics and concerns back to the important concepts of sustainability, authenticity, identity, dissonance, interpretation, conflict, and the like.

Which researchers in your field do you particularly admire?
As I mentioned earlier, I have great admiration for Lloyd Hudman (who passed away in 2009), Dick Butler and Geoff Wall. Professor Hudman wrote a couple of pioneering textbook during the 1970s and 80s that were widely used in tourism courses as the field was just beginning to grow. He was a wonderful undergraduate advisor, who gave me a taste of the good life in the tourism academy. I took courses from Professor Butler at the University of Western Ontario, and it was he who really helped me develop a fascination with scholarly research in tourism. Professor Wall was an amazing PhD supervisor, who provided a lot of insight, encouragement and constructive criticism, and also pointed me in the right direction as a researcher. Identifying others is hard, because there are so many excellent tourism researchers, but in my work on cultural heritage I have developed a particular fondness for the writings of Valene Smith, Mike Hall, Stephen Page, David Lowenthal, Greg Ashworth, Brian Graham, Erik Cohen, Richard Prentice, Myriam Jansen-Verbeke, Alan Fyall, Brian Garrod, Graham Dann, Anna Leask, David Herbert, Dean MacCannell, Gianna Moscardo, Alison McIntosh, Bob McKercher, Greg Richards, Tony Seaton, Hilary du Cros, Myra Shackley, John Tunbridge, Melanie Smith, Deepak Chhabra, Joan Henderson, David Airey, and Yaniv Poria. I admire the work of so many brilliant scholars, so it is very hard to narrow this one down.

As a tourism academic you must get to travel to some exotic locations. Where is the most unusual place you have travelled to for work?
I think it’s a toss-up between Greenland and Bhutan. While these are two very different places, they are both extremely unique and fascinating. I have been privileged to have visited more than 120 countries, and I hope to visit many more in the years ahead. Every place has a unique heritage, and I am prone to be interested in the details of every individual place’s past and present. That’s what makes travelling most interesting for me.

What do you think you might have done if you hadn’t pursued a career in academia?
I would probably be in government. I had always wanted to work in the Foreign Service for the US government as some sort of diplomat. I’m glad to have become an academic, however.

And finally, what is your next research project?
Just one? I never have just one, so here’s a more long-winded answer. Presently, I am co-writing two books (and developing three more), which should be published in 2012 by Channel View Publications, one on tourism trails and the other on Christian travel. I also have several ongoing and near-future research projects. First is an examination of divided cities throughout the world to address the dynamics of cross-border management of cultural resources in cities that are partitioned by international borders. The second project looks at borders as a form of geopolitical heritage and the meanings of this designation. Third is a series of surveys in Israel and Palestine with colleagues there to assess the meanings and adaptations of Christian souvenirs and Christian tourism in the Holy Land. Fourth is an exciting new project in six countries of Central America looking at several tourism phenomena, including Mayan culture, intra-regional migration, borderlands shopping and trade, and cross-border cooperation in planning and development. The fifth project, which is in its initial stages of development, examines the role of slave heritage and sugar culture in the Caribbean. Finally, I am finalizing a project that looks at the relationships between religious tourists and destination residents in Nepal and India.


An Interview with Hazel Andrews

6 June 2011

We have just published The British on Holiday by Hazel Andrews. It is the first full length ethnography of charter tourists and uses tourism as a vehicle to explore issues of current social importance. It focuses on charter tourists in the resorts of Palmanova and Magaluf on the Mediterranean Island of Mallorca. We caught up with Hazel and asked her a few questions about her research.

What first attracted you to the study of British tourists in Mallorca?
When I was studying for my MA the argument that tourism is a search for difference was often discussed in the literature. I had the opportunity to visit Mallorca for quite a different project based on the sustainable tourism policies in the municipality of Calvià, this gave me a view of what was happening in charter tourism and it didn’t seem to be very much about the idea of difference to me. So I was interested to find out more about what this particular group of tourists were looking for and how that relates to how they view themselves and their place in the world.

What makes your book different from others that have been published before?
I use tourism as a means to explore sociocultural issues relating to how people understand who they are and make sense of their world. It is based on a micro level study of touristic practices involving the use of participant observation. As such the book contains lots of information about tourists and tourism but also links to broader academic debates about social constructions of identity and how these are articulated.

Which researchers in your field have particularly inspired you?
I think that the influences on my work are quite eclectic and are drawn from both within the study of tourism and the wider social sciences so inspiration comes from all sorts of different work and people. In formulating a theoretical approach I have been inspired by the works of Pierre Bourdieu and the anthropology of Michael Jackson in particular. Tom Selwyn has also been a great inspiration not just in terms of theory but also in terms of pursuing ideas and practice based on important academic and educational values. Cathy Palmer and Monica Hanefors have also been sources of inspiration in their work about tourists.

As a tourism academic you must get to travel to some exotic locations. Where is the most unusual place you have travelled to for work?
I probably do less travelling than people imagine but when I do travel, exotic or not, I approach each new place with interest.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing books?
I enjoy being with my family, reading books by Alexander McCall Smith and watching Scandinavian detective programmes.

What are your plans for future research?
I am currently co-editing a book about liminal landscapes and will also be producing another book on the connection between tourism and violence.  I would like to develop the liminal landscapes work further with a project about beaches and to continue my research about constructions of identity in relation to UK produced tourism marketing material. I am keen to develop more work around tourists that involves an ethnographic approach.  I’m also sure that there’s more work to be done in Mallorca.


An Interview with Feliciano Chimbutane

20 May 2011

This week we’ve published Rethinking Bilingual Education in Postcolonial Contexts by Feliciano Chimbutane. This book is in our series Bilingual Education and Bilingualism which is edited by Colin Baker and Nancy Hornberger. We asked Feliciano a few questions about what inspired his research and the difficulties of doing research in underprivileged countries.

What inspired you to study bilingual education in postcolonial contexts?
In postcolonial contexts, and in sub-Saharan Africa in particular, bilingual education is a field of contradiction and contestation. Among other things, this is because African languages continue to be institutionally marginalised, in contexts where ex-colonial languages (e.g. English, French and Portuguese) remain the dominant languages. African languages continue to be deprived of capital value in mainstream societal markets, while at the same time being regarded by their speakers as languages of locality/tradition. This sociolinguistic landscape, associated with the fact that my own country is now introducing bilingual education in formal schooling, is what inspired me to investigate the purpose and value of bilingual education in postcolonial contexts, especially where this form of education is a new phenomenon.

Nowadays, the West tends to dominate the world of academia. Do you think scholars from disadvantaged countries find it more difficult to succeed in the academic world?
Doing research in disadvantaged countries is not an easy task. Constraints include lack of funding for research activities, scarcity of resources and, in many contexts, lack of political will. All these constraints affect the quality of research and make it difficult to collaborate and/or compete with fellow Western researchers. In addition to that, it has not been easy to publish materials focusing on countries of the South. For example, many African scholars find it difficult to publish their work with Western publishers, especially when they are about specific contexts or topics. One of the reasons given by publishers has been that such materials have a limited market. Language is also a barrier for many researchers from the South. In order to be visible, one needs to be published in the so-called languages of wider communication, which in many cases means “English”. So, those who cannot write in English are condemned to anonymity no matter how brilliant their research may be.

What other projects are you working on at the moment?
I am now editing a book on bilingual education in Mozambique, which will include a number of local contributors working in this field. The book is aimed at documenting and critically exploring a variety of lessons learned during the first years of implementing bilingual education in the country. In collaboration with Jo Shoba, from Edge Hill University, I am also working in a book project on Bilingual Education in the Global South. Involving contributors from different parts of the globe, the volume is meant to be a critical appraisal of the interface between language and education, culture and economy in the global south.

Which other scholars working in the field of bilingual education you most admire?
There is a pool of scholars who I admire in the field of bilingual education. Some of them have been my source of inspiration. For “diplomatic” reasons, I prefer not to mention names here – my writings are revealing anyway!

What books – either for work or for pleasure – are you reading at the moment?
Among others, I am now reading Sociolinguistics and Language Education, edited by Nancy Hornberger and Sandra L. McKay, a great and comprehensive piece of work.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing books?
I love to be with my family. So, I always try to find some space to stay and relax with my loved ones. I also enjoy playing and watching football, which is my hobby.


An Interview with Colin Baker

1 March 2011

Much excitement in the office this week, as the 5th edition of Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism by Colin Baker has just been published. Foundations is our most widely-read and recognisable book, and copies of each new edition tend to get snapped up pretty quickly, so we’re anticipating a busy couple of months. I had a quick chat with Colin about the book, his future plans, and his ill-fated ambition to be an airline pilot…

How did you first become interested in bilingualism?

I fell in love with the Vicar’s daughter in the University Church. Her family all spoke Welsh and English fluently. For a southern English person, surrounded by monolingualism, this was a revelation. I fell in love with bilingualism, married the Vicar’s daughter, and we raised three children who from infancy became effortlessly bilingual.

Were there any books/scholars that particularly inspired you when you were beginning to study bilingualism?

As an undergraduate student, I was taught by W.R. Jones who was a pioneer in research on intelligence and bilingualism. He is still quoted today.
My first book, ‘Aspects of Bilingualism in Wales’ had an unlikely beginning. I read a book on attitudes and language in a particular geographical location, and thought that I could write one just as good about Wales. From that peculiar beginning, I’ve always been writing the next book.

Where did the idea for ‘Foundations’ come from?

Not from me. I received a letter from the Managing Director of Multilingual Matters rather unexpectedly in the early 1990s. It related that my second book ‘Key Issues in Bilingualism and Bilingual Education’ was beginning to sell as a textbook. I never intended that. Mike Grover wrote ‘Consider writing THE textbook on Bilingual Education’. From receiving that letter, my life changed forever. Thankfully.

Did you have any idea how successful the book would become when you started writing the first edition?

If you had asked me in 1993 when the first edition was published, would it ever reach a second edition or get translated, the answer would have been a massive and definite ‘NO’. I was just very lucky in being the first person to bring together writing and research from different disciplines, summarise and organise it, and get a publisher to market it so well.

How do you keep track of all the new research that’s published between one edition and the next?

As soon as I finish an edition, I immediately start collecting material for the next edition. At first, it becomes one great pile in my room at Bangor University. Eventually, I separate the material into different piles to represent each chapter.
When I start writing, I take a chapter at a time, but not in the order they appear in the book. The smaller piles are completed first to encourage me to continue!
In the early days, it was not too difficult to track new research across journals, books and even the WWW. These days, there are many new journals, an increasing number of books, and an explosion of material on the Internet. Newer topics such as Neurobilingualism, endangered languages and globalism mean that the boundaries are forever expanding.

What are you working on at the moment (apart from the 6th edition of ‘Foundations’!)?

I am currently working with the research team as part of a UK multi-million pound research grant. We are researching: translanguaging, adult language learning, bilingual education at University level, and multilingual pre-school education. That will produce varied publications in journals and books.

Are there any recent books on bilingualism that you’ve found particularly interesting?

A book that is rather novel, original in content, thought provoking and grounded is: Bilingual Siblings: Language Use in Families by Suzanne Barron-Hauwaert (Multilingual Matters, December 2010). This will probably be a book that inspires a new line of research that has both theoretical and practical outcomes.

If you had the time and resources, and a willing publisher, what would be your dream book project?

Looking back, the book Sylvia Prys Jones and I wrote entitled Encyclopedia of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education was hard work as it was completed in three years, but added many meaningful pictures, lively text boxes, stories and even humour to what could have been a tedious publication.  It has a lovely message that bilingualism is beautiful, global and adds colour and diversity to our world.  A new version of that would be my dream book.

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working?

I enjoy working, and leisure time is something of a rarity. But I play a pedal organ occasionally, enjoy refurbishing a large tank of tropical fish, and take vacations in Slovenia.

What do you think you might have done if you hadn’t pursued a career in academia?

I started employment as a teacher in secondary schools, and if my Ph.D. supervisor had not left his post, I guess I could now be a stressed Headteacher/Principal of a school.
If I had a magic wand and could have chosen any career, I would have loved to become a cathedral organist, an expert fisherman or an aeroplane pilot. Luckily for music, fish and safety in the air, Bangor University appointed me.


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