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Crisis Translation: A snapshot in time


The fields of disaster studies and crisis communication have been established for a long time. However, the role of translation in these fields has largely been overlooked until recently. A considerable body of research is now emerging that investigates translation as a crisis communication tool. This paper serves to provide a snapshot in time of the progress to date. A brief introduction to the disciplines of disaster studies and crisis communication is provided and crisis translation is situated at the nexus of these two areas. Following from this, the article considers the position of crisis translation in relation to topics of interest to translation studies scholars such as conflict, development, and community translation. Some of the main topics that have received recent attention to date, such as emergency response policy, translation technology, citizen translator training and ethics are then introduced. The lack of recognition of translation as a crisis communication tool in emergency response policies is called out and recommendations for such policies are highlighted. The essential role of volunteers in crisis response and how this relates to translation is discussed, along with the ethical considerations that need to be taken into account. The potential and challenges of translation technology to assist in all stages of crises is then elaborated. Taking a proposal for research directions in disaster studies, which outlines guiding principles and research thrusts, how translation studies can respond to that agenda is briefly considered. It is concluded that translation and interpreting research can contribute to the five ‘guiding principles’ of horizon scanning, interdisciplinarity, ethics, knowledge transfer and impact. Equally, crisis translation can also easily contribute to the five research ‘thrusts’ of justice, risk, habitation zones, data and technology, and infrastructure for humanity. Indeed, the work to date on crisis and translation has already made significant contributions to these topics, but there is considerable potential for further developments.


crisis, translation, disaster studies, crisis communication, research agenda



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