UNESCO Chair in Refugee Integration Through Languages and the Arts (University of Glasgow)

Purpose/Objectives of the Chair/UNITWIN Network

The purpose of the UNESCO Chair is to promote an integrated system of research, training, information and documentation on how the integration of refugees into new communities can be promoted through languages and the arts. The UNESCO Chair will bring together internationally-recognised researchers in this field from across the University as well as other institutions in the United Kingdom, in Africa, the Arab States region, as well as in other regions of the world.

Research projects range from the dynamics of ethnic inequality and identity in the UK since the Second World War; lesbian, gay and bisexual migrants in Scotland; and a training model for effective interpreting in healthcare settings.


Dancers from the Noyam Institute for African Dance, Dodowa, Ghana – partnering with the UNESCO Chair in a dance piece co-directed by Tawona Sitholé, Gameli Tordzro and Alison Phipps


Other aspects include:

  • The Researching Multilingually at Borders project, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). It is a collaboration between seven academic institutions (international and UK) and third sector organisations. The international team of researchers, with their different disciplinary backgrounds, research experiences, language and performance skills, will conduct international comparative research on translation and interpretation at different kinds of border in order to develop theory, ethical research practices and research methodologies in relation to multilingual research.
  • Artists-in-residence:
    • Gameli Tordzro was appointed GRAMNet Musician-in-Residence in 2015. His plans include the development of a Migrants Arts Network within GRAMNet in collaboration with other artists-in-residence’. He said: “I will also bring the expertise and experience of a diaspora artist from a context in the global south with a history of both receiving and losing populations through slavery, displacements and conflict. This is vital knowledge for working with refugee populations in the present and in their own displacement from the contexts where their languages are spoken readily and cultural forms are palpable and part of everyday life”.
    • Poet-in-residence Tawona Sitholé’s work with the University of Glasgow has ranged from Global Health inductions to working within the School of Education, and is currently focused on the Researching Multilingually project. He said: “Working with the Chair I will ensure that the ethics of respect for indigenous and ancestral knowledges are maintained and observed fully within the project and the academic work. As the programme of work with the Chair becomes established with the two partners in the global south we will work to extend the reach of the work into my own native Zimbabwe and also with indigenous custodians of culture and language with whom Prof Phipps has established and trusted relations”.

Chairholder/Coordinator: Professor Alison Phipps

Alison Phipps, OBE, PhD, BA (Hons) FRSE is Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies, and Convener of Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network (GRAMNET). In 2011 she was voted ‘Best College Teacher’ by the student body and received the Universities ‘Teaching Excellence Award’ for a Career Distinguished by Excellence. She received an OBE for Services to Education and Intercultural and Interreligious Relations. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh

She has led research in Palestine, Sudan, Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia, Germany, France, USA, Portugal. She has produced and directed theatre and worked as creative liturgist with the World Council of Churches from 2008-2011 for the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation. She regularly advises public, governmental and third sector bodies on migration and language policy.

She is author of numerous books and articles and a regular international keynote speaker and broadcaster. Her first collection of poetry, Through Wood  was published in 2009.

Address: Professor of Languages and Intercultural Studies,10 The Square, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ

Email: Alison.Phipps@glasgow.ac.uk

Twitter: @alison_phipps

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