I work as Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Co-Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET) at the University of Glasgow. I teach languages, religious education, anthropology and intercultural education and education for non-violence and in each of these settings I work and research multilingually. I studied French and German at Durham University and my PhD was undertaken at the University of Sheffield and University of Tübingen involving research in German and fieldwork in the Swabian dialect. As a trained anthropologist I’ve found myself conducting research in a range of languages, some of which I had not even known existed until I was encountering them in my research. This is particularly the case with my present research with refugees and asylum seekers in Glasgow. My multilingual research takes place in settings which are often marked by extremes; in detention centres, campaign offices, reporting centres for UKBA and during diasporic celebrations and holidays, in community halls, churches and mosques, as well as in domestic settings. Much of my mulltilingual research has involved aspects of performance. In my early fieldwork this involved acting in Swabian and performing to large audiences in the open air, later it involved working with and alongside tourists. I am presently co-ordinating a large AHRC project studying the use of multilingual drama in primary health care settings for migrants. In addition I also provide diversity training for Family Liaison Officers in Scotland, which includes drawing on multilingual research and practice.
At present I supervise a range of PhD students who are working multilingually and who have all increased my awareness of ethical, creative and sensuous dimension to multilingual research, as well as to the limits to the concept of multilingualism and whatever we may define as the limits of ‘the multilingual field.’ At present I am particularly exercised by the questions of multilingual advocacy and voice, and by what happens to language during times characterised by wellbeing and by pain and suffering. In particular I have been considering the use of languages to express solidarity and in faith gatherings.
My books include Acting Identities (2000), Contemporary German Cultural Studies (ed. 2002), Modern Languages: Learning and Teaching in an Intercultural Field (2004) with Mike Gonzalez, Critical Pedagogy: Political Approaches to Languages and Intercultural Communication (ed. 2004) with Manuela Guilherme and Tourism and Intercultural Exchange (2005) with Gavin Jack and most recently Learning the Arts of Linguistic Survival: Tourism, Languaging, Life (2007). My first collection of poetry, Through Wood, was published in 2009. It works with Gaelic and English and I have published several examples of multilingual poetry with the Italian poet Guido Monte. From 1999 – 2004 I was Chair of the International Association for Languages and Intercultural Communication (IALIC). I am a senior policy advisor to the British Council and was an advisor to the World Council of Churches’ International Ecumenical Peace Convocation from 2007-2011. I am a member of the Iona Community.