Blurred Boundaries: Interpreters as Researchers in Cross-Cultural Settings

January 1, 2016


This is a study of ambiguities and tensions that occur within the role of the bilingual/bicultural researcher in an ethnographic study. This manuscript presents an analysis of three instances from two interviews in a study on the acculturation of deaf students in deaf kindergarten classrooms in Japan and the US. This is an auto-ethnographic analysis of conflicts found in fluctuating between multiple roles: research assistant, interpreter, cultural mediator, and sociolinguistic consultant. In these examples my bicultural knowledge allowed me to identify “hidden” meanings overlooked by other members of the research team. However, my interpreter role at times made it awkward to contribute my insights to the research team. The findings of this study show that interpreters who are linguistically and culturally in-between the researchers and researched play a crucial but delicate role in cross-cultural studies.


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Hensley, Jennifer S. (2016) “Blurred Boundaries: Interpreters as Researchers in Cross-Cultural Settings,” Journal of Interpretation: Vol. 25 : Iss. 1 , Article 5.

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