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 with a particular interest in translation. She is currently working on a project exploring women translators in early modern Germany, funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
  • Alice Corr specialises in the linguistics (especially morphosyntax) and dialectology of the Ibero-Romance language family. Her research documents the grammatical patterns of these languages, and asks what the structural differences between these closely-related languages can reveal about the mental representation of grammar.
  • Anissa Daoudi researches language and power and their relations to gender discourses in the MENA region. In particular, she investigates the relationship between language, literature, translation and cultural memory on sexual violence against women in conflict in Algeria.
  • 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.
  • Rebecca Gould works at the intersections of anthropology, comparative literature, and social theory. Her primary field of expertise lies in the literatures and cultures of the Caucasus.
  • 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 working on a book-length study tracing shifting intellectual and artistic interpretations of post-revolutionary nationhood in Mexico.
  • Maria Roca Lizarazu specialises in contemporary German-language literatures of (post-) migration, German Jewish literature and culture, Holocaust literatures, and Memory studies.
  • 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.
  • 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).

Find out more



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

Berny Sèbe talks about Empires