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The role of translators and interpreters in cascading crises and disasters: Towards a framework for confronting the challenges

David E. Alexander (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, London, UK)
Gianluca Pescaroli (Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, London, UK)

Disaster Prevention and Management

ISSN: 0965-3562

Article publication date: 28 August 2019

Issue publication date: 11 March 2020

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explain the significance of cascading crises for translators and interpreters, and how their work may be affected by such events. It provides a theoretical basis for analysis and field practice.

Design/methodology/approach

The authors define cascades and explain how they influence the development of preparedness, mitigation and response. The authors identify key drivers of cascading crises and discuss how they challenge conventional approaches to emergency management. The authors discuss ways in which use of language could be a key factor in crisis escalation. The authors define priorities and operational challenges of cascading crises for translators and interpreters. In terms of methodology, this paper develops a conceptual framework that can be used for future enquiry and case history analysis.

Findings

The authors provide a qualitative description and synthesis of the key instructions to be used in the field. The authors offer a short list of key questions that can be referred to by linguists and scholars. The authors identify situations in which translation and interpretation are important ingredients in the success of emergency preparedness and response efforts. These include multilingual populations, migrant crises, international humanitarian deployment and emergency communication during infrastructure failures.

Research limitations/implications

This work has academic value for the process of understanding cascades and practical relevance in terms of how to deal with them.

Practical implications

Translators and interpreters need to understand cascading crises in order to be prepared for the challenges that such events will present.

Social implications

Society has become more complex and interconnected, with non-linear cascading escalation of secondary emergencies. Emergency planners and responders need to address this in new ways. Effective communication and information strategies are essential to the mitigation of cascading disaster risk.

Originality/value

The study of cascading crises from a socio-economic point of view is relatively new, but it is important because society is increasingly dependent on networks that can propagate failure of information supply.

Keywords

Citation

Alexander, D.E. and Pescaroli, G. (2020), "The role of translators and interpreters in cascading crises and disasters: Towards a framework for confronting the challenges", Disaster Prevention and Management, Vol. 29 No. 2, pp. 144-156. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-12-2018-0382

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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