"Multilingual Research: Reflections on Translating Qualitative Data" in The British Journal of Social Work
Abstract The objective of this article is to examine translation dilemmas in cross-cultural qualitative research projects. In particular, I reflect on my experiences of conducting cross-language qualitative research and I examine how the translation techniques I have employed over the years shape the collection and interpretation of non-English to English qualitative data. Centred on the question ‘What aspects of participants’ representation are lost or foreclosed in this act, process and outcome of translating and how can this be mitigated?’, I discuss how the following coalesce to inform how this complex and multidimensional question is addressed: (i) the competencies, processes and outcomes of translating, (ii) the importance of situating data in its social context and (iii) how this shapes the representation of data. As well, this article discusses the implication of cross-cultural and cross-language studies on social work and presents three lessons learned from my experiences.
Lorne Foster is a York University Research Chair in Black Canadian Studies and Human Rights and Professor in the School of Public Policy & Administration. His teaching and research interests include anti-Black racism in law enforcement; discrimination in public and social policy, policy reform, human rights, and social justice.
Other publications from this author include:
- "Learning Through Pictures: The Integration of Reflexive Photography in Social Justice Education" in International Research in Education 8 (2), 57-76. (2020)
- "Discourses of Migration and Belonging: How Language Shapes the Return-Thinking Processes of Ethiopians in Canada" in Clinical Social Work Journal (2019)
- Racial Profiling and Human Rights in Canada: The New Legal Landscape (2018)
- Workplace Diversity and Human Rights Primer: Building Inclusive Organizational Practice and Culture (2018)
- Labour and Human Rights in China and Canada. APDR Working Papers Series, Vol. 4: Trade and the Right to Labour (2017)
- Writing Justice: Voicing Issues in the Third Media, Multicultural History Society (2011)