Over the last three years we have been video-interviewing people in order to create an archive that documents the polylingual and transcultural nature of Devon. It also allows University of Exeter students, part of that community, a hands-on experience of interviewing, subtitling and being interviewed.
The aim of these interviews is to find out more about experiences of migration from people who have moved to Devon from other countries, but also about the experiences of people in Devon learning and speaking languages.
Our videos offer the opportunity to observe how a personal story is told, and how it is shaped or influenced by the way we translate ourselves from one culture to another. In the first stage we conducted the interviews in each person's mother tongue to facilitate the expression of personal feelings and recognize polylingual Devon. When the interviews were then reversed, and members of the public interviewed our own students we encouraged the students to speak in the interviewer's mother tongue to foster a sense of welcome and openness in the Devon community.
The project takes inspiration from a previous project called 'Italians in Exeter', also featuring in this archive. It is led by Danielle Hipkins, whose research focuses on memories of culture, and Valentina Todino of the Italian Cultural Association Exeter, Devon Development Education and the Cultural Champions' project.
It has been supported by the University of Exeter Annual Student Fund, Being Human Festival, 2018; Devon Development Education; the Translation! Festivals 2017 & 2019; the University of Exeter Community Engagement Fund, and the Vice Chancellor's Discretionary Fund.