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From Madrid to Barcelona

From Madrid to Barcelona

How a small visit can have a big impact on your PhD research

The PhD research I am currently undertaking under the supervision of Bernie O’Rourke and Máiréad Nic Craith at Heriot-Watt University looks at the role of a ‘local’ language such as Galician, in the construction of identity for a ‘non-local’ immigrant population.

My research links up with an important strand of the COST Action, specifically the exploration of the concept of the ‘new speaker’ in migrant contexts as part of Working Group 2. My research focuses on immigrant ‘new speakers’ of Galician in a small fishing town in northern Galicia.

The purpose of this STSM was to discuss approaches to analysing ethnographic data that I collected in summer 2014.

Furthermore, the aim was to present my findings to both undergraduate and postgraduate students and have the opportunity to collaborate with PhD students whose research interests line up with the aims of this COST Action on New Speakers.

During my STSM I spent one week at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid and another week at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya.

In Madrid I collaborated with Luisa Martín-Rojo. Luisa and I analysed transcripts from qualitative interviews that form part of my PhD data. She provided me with extensive bibliographic material on theory as well as methodology.

During my time in Madrid I also had the opportunity to deliver a seminar based on my doctoral research to an undergraduate class. Furthermore, I met with two PhD students working at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid. They were very welcoming and shared their experiences working with immigrant groups and conducting ethnographic research in classroom settings.

While in Barcelona, I worked alongside Joan Pujolar, Maite Puigdevall-Serralvo and Tulay Martínez Fernández. I also met with members of the NEOPHON research project. 

I had the opportunity to present my work at a seminar organised by Joan Pujoar.

This seminar was particularly useful as those in attendance came from varied research backgrounds. Iago González, who also carries out research on the Galician context, made very constructive and insightful comments about my work. Eunice Romero, whose expertise is in the discipline of sociology, recommended reading material and provided a fresh perspective on my PhD project. During the seminar we discussed theoretical concepts related to migration and integration and how they relate to my current research.

In the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, I spent time exchanging ideas with Tulay Martínez Fernández.

Tulay’s doctoral research on Moroccan immigrant women in Catalan language classrooms is closely linked to my own research. After some initial discussion, we drew together ideas that we hope to develop in a joint publication. Provisionally, we hope to start writing an article in early 2015.

My STSM took place three weeks before the 2nd International Symposium on New Speakers in a Multilingual Europe, which was held at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. This meant that I had the opportunity to meet with the organisers of the symposium in advance of the working group meetings.

I discussed the data that I would be presenting at the symposium with Joan Pujolar and Maite Puigdevall. It was helpful to receive feedback on my presentation in advance of the symposium as it allowed me to refine and adjust it before delivering it to other members of the COST network.

Consequently, I have been invited to submit my paper for publication in an edited volume on the theme ‘Ideologies and practices of new speakers of minority languages’ that is being co-ordinated by researchers in the COST network.

Following my STSM, I hope to contribute to the workings of Working Group 2 and the Action overall by presenting my project at events organized by the COST Action and at external conferences, where I can discuss my involvement in the important research that is currently being conducted by the COST network.

New speakers and 'authentic' Yiddish
The 'new speaker' label

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