Remote telephone interpretation in medical consultations with refugees: Meta-communications about care, survival and selfhood

Christine Phillips*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    18 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    In Australia, interpreted consultations with refugees are frequently conducted using remote telephone interpretation (RTI). This article explores the metacommunication, or communication about communication (Bateson 1951), which occurs in these consultations. Consultations using RTI are framed by two types of meta-communication: one between patient and doctor about thestate's responsiveness to the refugee, and a second communication between refugee and interpreter about survival of the self through resettlement. The latter is established through the introductory chat of the interpreter, the everyday soundscapes of the interpreters' lives heard in the background, and the more assertive speaking style used by remote interpreters. Together, they produce a meta-communication about the safe negotiation of identity through resettlement. A range of technological alternatives to RTI exist or are in development. We should be wary that newer technologies which make human-tohuman interpreting redundant do not result in a more restricted communication environment for refugees.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numberfet005
    Pages (from-to)505-523
    Number of pages19
    JournalJournal of Refugee Studies
    Volume26
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

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