Each of the six research clusters at BCMCR have produced a statement on what cultural translation means for researchers in their area. The statement for the History, Heritage and Archives cluster is as follows:
“Cultural translation informs two interrelated strands in the work of scholars in the Histories, Heritages and Archive cluster. First, researchers frequently use and explore how processes of cultural translation interact with the development and circulation of national identities. This can range from videogame history, where scholars explore how Britishness is formed and transmitted by internationally-developed products, to histories of internationalism, where researchers examine how ideas like non-violence are promulgated globally through international conferences. Secondly, the cluster’s work is attentive to the way culture is or is not translated through time. This might mean viewing the archive as a translator, or as facilitating the process of translation, or indeed exploring how the archive might be in some ways an obstacle to the ‘temporal’ transmission of culture. Finally, when the archives in question are those not traditionally supported via state institutions, particularly local music archives, questions of cultural translation – what is preserved, what is lost, by who, for who – take on a pressing political exigency.”
You can find specific examples of research from History, Heritage and Archives scholars at BCU here.
Dr. David Gange (University of Birmingham) – Sea Sites in Island History: Exploring the Lost Communities of Atlantic Britain and Ireland
There are many more once-inhabited islands in the British and Irish archipelago than there are cities. Many of these had been populated for centuries before a flurry of abandonment between 1850 and 1930. Such islands are lined with ruins: but-and-ben homes, field systems, water mills, abandoned boats, fish traps and shell middens from before the age of buildings. Nineteenth-century people here lived, consciously, in iron age and neolithic landscapes. The coasts are thickly layered in names – Irish and Scottish Gaelic, Norse, Scots, Welsh, occasionally even English – that preserve their history of usage. Regions where such islands predominate are richly served by historical archives so that it’s often possible to link an island ruin to families who used it and the processes that ended its productive life. Those who abandoned an island such as Havera, Shetland, in the 1920s can be heard discussing the joys and challenges of island life in the uniquely rich oral history collections of these regions. This paper explores the processes of researching such communities, but also asks what vision of British and Irish history might be developed by seeing the nineteenth century – the moment when Britain was turned inside out by the advent of roads and rail, and small islands became for the first time in their history ‘remote’ – from their perspective.
Dr. Dima Saber (BCU) Resistance-by-Recording: The disappearing archives of the Syrian war
This paper will present the early findings of the ‘Resistance-by-recording: the visuality and visibility of contentious political action in the Arab region’ project after the first round of ethnographic work in Berlin in November 2017. Focussing primarily on the consequences of YouTube’s new algorithm to limit the proliferation of material considered graphic or supporting Jihadi propaganda, I will also explore the costs of the Syrian activists’ over-reliance on the current affordances of digital platforms and the challenges this precariousness poses for the preservation of a citizen-generated memory and history of the Syrian war.
About the speakers:
Dr. Dima Saber is a Senior Research Fellow at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. Her research is focussed on media depictions of conflict in the Arab region, and she is responsible for leading and delivering projects in citizen journalism, particularly exploring the relation between digital media literacy and social impact in post-revolution and in conflict settings such as Egypt, Palestine and Syria.
Dr. David Gange is Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Birmingham. His books include a history of Egyptology, Dialogues with the Dead (Oxford, 2013) and The Victorians: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld, 2016). He is currently working on a book that involved kayaking all the Atlantic coastlines of Britain and Ireland across 2016-17, The Frayed Atlantic Edge (Harper Collins, 2019).