Forging Links: Re-imagining disciplinary links

Forging Links offers a platform for innovative research at the crossroads between disciplines and methodologies, all united by their reference to the perpetual and fruitful movement of ideas, methods, peoples and cultures, highlighting connections, transfers, translation, adaptation - in other words, ‘links’ that can be used to generate paradigm shifts.

Stream lead: Dr Berny Sèbe

The concept of the ‘link’ used here stresses dialogue, association and exchange rather than separation, and it can be linear or multipolar, fleeting or resilient, tenuous or strong. The link, which can be physical, ontological, disciplinary, artistic or epistemological, is an element that structures flows and exchanges and the stream examines this dynamic phenomenon within several contexts, which are both interdisciplinary and transregional.

The complexity of links, as non-linear, reflective, dynamic and fluctuating provide a rich subject to explore, and feed the key question which revolves around the nature and potential of ‘links’ in a research context. Our approach emphasizes the links themselves, as opposed to the actual ‘objects’ being linked. Researchers consider what is involved methodologically in adopting cross-border or globalizing views of culture from outside of the modern Western canon. They examine theoretical questions of connections, translations, and transfers. Research in the stream reframes questions of memory and exile and undertakes a renewal of approaches to linguistic structures that underpin multiple languages across divergent schools of linguistic thought. The stream draws upon the expertise and initiative of a variety of networks and centres based at the University of Birmingham, such as the Centre for the Study of Hispanic Exile, as well as Francopoco and Postcolonial Birmingham.



  • Hilary Brown researches transnational cultural history in the period 1500-1800 and has a particular interest in early modern translation.
  • Alice Corr specialises in comparative (Ibero-)Romance morphosyntax. Her work is concerned with testing the predictions and orthodoxies of theoretical linguistics as well as with challenging the ideological assumptions that underpin the public, policy and scholarly discourses surrounding languages and language practices.
  • Dagmar Divjak explores how our cognitive capacities give rise to the patterns we see in language and how learners might use these patterns to build up knowledge of their language.
  • Louise Hardwick is a specialist in Francophone Studies and World Literature, with a particular interest in the global reception, adaptation circulation and translation of Francophone literature.
  • Monica Jato is a specialist  in 20th-21st Spanish Peninsular Literature and Culture (Post-civil War poetry, exile literature, and women’s autobiographical writing).
  • Sara Jones researches the political, social and cultural processes of remembering state socialist dictatorship from multiple perspectives. She has a particular interest in cultural forms of testimony, memory in migration, transnational networks, and mixed-methods approaches.
  • Katharina Karcher researches protest movements and political violence in the 20th and 21st centuries. Drawing on gender, race, class, dis/ability, and political ideology, her work transgresses disciplinary boundaries and draws on a range of theoretical frameworks including feminist theory, cultural studies, and critical security studies.
  • John Klapper explores writing under National Socialism, particularly the non-conformist writers of inner exile.
  • Sofia Malamatidou combines linguistics and translation studies in order to develop an interdisciplinary study of cross-cultural communication, which challenges the ways in which we have understood how languages, people, and ideas interact through translation.
  • Elisenda Marcer researches contemporary Catalan literature, with a special interest in poetry and narrative, the construction of identity and cross-disciplinary discourses.
  • Petar Milin explores the crucial role of learning in human language, its behaviour and use. Methodologically, Milin combines experimentation and computational modelling with advanced statistical data analysis.
  • Lucy O’Sullivan is a researcher of Mexican visual and literary culture from the early post-revolution period to the 1950s. She is currently exploring the role of visual propaganda in the ongoing struggle between the post-revolutionary Mexican state and conservative Catholic movements such as the Cristeros and the Sinarquistas in Mexico from the mid-1920s to the 1940s..
  • Emanuelle Rodrigues Dos Santos focuses on the intersections between the cultures of the Portuguese-speaking world, postcolonial studies, and theories of world literature, drawing attention to the global-local dialectics in epistemology and literary and critical theory.
  • Natalia Rulyova researches across the areas of translation studies, post-Soviet media culture and genre studies. Her recent scholarly work has focused on developing a theory of collaborative self-translation drawing on the bilingual work of the Russian-American poet Joseph Brodsky.
  • Lorraine Ryan researches the sociology of memory, cultural and collective memory in Spain, as well as the relationship between gender and memory. Her most recent work focuses on perpetrator memory in Spain.
  • Norma Schifano specialises in the comparative morphosyntax of Spanish and the Romance languages, with a particular focus on the documentation of non-standard and endangered varieties (including Italo-Greek), phenomena of language contact and microvariation.
  • Berny Sèbe explores the history, memory and legacies of colonial and post-colonial relations between European and non-European worlds, especially in the cultural and political realms in the English, French and Spanish-speaking regions.
  • Xiaohui Yuan researches intercultural pragmatics in translation and interpreting, using translation and interpreting in mediation, and cultural influence on mediation.

Major publications


Distinguished visiting speakers

We have benefited from the insights of distinguished speakers who have shared their perspectives on trans-Mediterranean and trans-Atlantic connections (Prof. Sasha Pack, SUNY; Prof. Inocência Mata, Universities of Lisbon and Macau), identity-formation in the Middle East (Prof. Wm. Roger Louis, University of Texas at Austin), transnational and multilingual media histories (Dr Chandrika Kaul, University of St Andrews); transnationalizing Modern Languages (Prof. Charles Burdett, University of Bristol), interdisciplinarity in/between Modern Languages, Literature and Poetry, History and Translation Studies (Prof. Peter Davies, University of Edinburgh; Prof. Nigel Fabb, University of Strathclyde; Prof. Vicente Rafael, University of Washington, Seattle).

The Stream also organised an internal one-day workshop entitled ‘Forging Links: PGR Perspectives’, with fourteen post-graduate students contributing papers based on their own research projects.

It was a partner of the international conference Showcasing Empire: Colonial Empires and Material Cultures which took place at Aix-Marseille-Université (France, February 2020), and two PhD students from Birmingham, Dega Rutherford and Sara Mechkarini, organised the associated two-day conference ‘Showcasing’ Empire: The Legacy of Colonialism on Post-Imperial Societies in February 2021. The Stream also hosted the Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies’s study day on ‘negotiating borders in the Francophone world’, with a keynote address from Prof. Charles Forsdick (University of Liverpool).

Recent doctoral research

  • Maria Elena Alampi, The Economic Crisis on the Big Screen: the Italian Era of Precarity.
  • Sarah Alshamran, Analysing “Feminist-Political” Discourse in Translated Novels After the Arab Spring
  • Hayat Al-Khalifah, The Translation of Dual-Readership Literature: Alice in Wonderland in Arabic.
  • Ilaria Bernardi, Visiting the United States and Bringing It Back Home: the US Exchange Programs with Germany and Italy, 1950-1965
  • Katie Blair, Linguistic Landscapes, Sanctuary and Integration: The Riace Model
  • Maciej Borowski, Modelling knowledge of aspect: merging insights from usage-based linguistics and learning theory.
  • Isabel Cawthorn, Remembering the Future: the (re-)construction of memory, the past and the future in the nineteenth-century Spanish short story.
  • Dooshima Dugguh: Post-Independence Disillusionment With African Politics: Post-Colonial Francophone Literary Voices.
  • Valeria Floris, Analysing Gender and Sexuality in Slash Fanfiction: A Comparative Study between Anglophone and Italian Literature.
  • Marta Gasiorowska, A Cognitive approach to the L2 classroom: the role of attention in language learning.
  • Geoffrey Geis: Desert voices: literary representations of the Sahara since the colonial period and beyond.
  • Shiyu He, Learning to Optimize Reading: Transferring Eye Movements across Languages.
  • Jeppe Heino Hansen: Selfcolonisation in Russian Literature.
  • Ella El Houdiri: Cross-Cultural Trajectories: Arabic, English, French and Italian-speaking Literary Representations of Colonial Libya.
  • Liz Joys: Castes and Culinary Tastes in British India: Colonial Adaptation and Religious Acculturation.
  • Ann Kiatkowski: Les Filles du Roi: Gender and Migration in French North America.
  • Johanna Kreft, Beyond “colonial amnesia”: Decolonising German Institutional Memory through Transformative Social Activism
  • Sonia Lamrani: Self-Orientalism in the Post-colonial novel
  • Mouna Lekkal: Representation of the Algerian War of Independence in the British Media: the BBC, the FLN and decolonisation.
  • Sameera Magar: A study of the colonial legacy in linguistic practices in British India and French Algeria.
  • Phillip McGuinness, Agency in 1950s Spanish Women´s Writing.
  • Sarah Mechkarini: Alienation and Identity in Anglophone and Francophone African Novels: Mouloud Mammeri’s Le Sommeil du juste, Ngũgĩ Wa Thiong'o’s The River Between, Assia Djebar’s L’Amour, la fantasia and Tsitsi Dangarembga’s Nervous Conditions.
  • Mia Parkes, Reconceptualising the Female Political Prisoner: 100 Years of Women's Imprisonment
  • Dennis Reddington: Ethics in the novels of Javier Marias.
  • Degasian Rutherford: Quasi-Ornamentalism in the Urban Landscape of Colonial Hong Kong: Appropriation, Imperial construction and Resistance, 1840 – Present.
  • Sourour Salhi: Towards a global appraisal of the African past: A Postcolonial Comparative Study of Franco-Algerian and Anglo-Nigerian Literatures from Subalternity to ‘Hybrid Affirmation.
  • Helen Tatlow: Encountering Heinrich von Kleist in the works of John Banville and David Constantine
  • Niven Whatley: The Representation of the Female Immigrant in Contemporary Spanish Culture.
  • Franziska Wolf, Germany viewed from minority perspectives in selected texts by Lion Feuchtwanger and Abbas Khider
  • Amina Zarzi: The Representation of the Algerian Sahara desert in the French Colonial Imagination and its Resonance in the Expressions of Identity of Postcolonial Algerian Literature.
  • Fabien Zerbib: Ethnic Minorities in Colonial Algeria: History, Memory and Legacy.

Find out more



Violence against women: narratives, translations and languages - Anissa Daoudi

Berny Sèbe talks about Empires