Mediating Zones of Uncertainty: interpreter agency, the interpreting habitus and political asylum adjudication

Inghilleri, Moira. 2005. Mediating Zones of Uncertainty: interpreter agency, the interpreting habitus and political asylum adjudication. The Translator, 11(1), pp. 69-85. ISSN 13556509 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

This paper builds on previous work by the author (Inghilleri 2003) which explored the status of norms in relation to the notion of an 'interpreting habitus' and the contexts and cultures of interpreter training and practice. It attempts to further elaborate one aspect of the conceptual framework used in this previous work, namely the notion of an interpreting habitus, considering it in relation to translation and interpreting theory more generally. The paper argues for a view of interpreted events within the asylum system as crucial sites for the convergence of competing fields and their accompanying habitus. It suggests that, given the present constitution of the public service interpreting profession as a 'zone of uncertainty', a term Bourdieu uses to refer to weak positions located in the gaps between fields within social space, the status of interpreters' knowledge within interpreted events remains vulnerable to exercises of power outside of their control. Under these conditions, the 'interpreting habitus' – the 'product' of the convergence of fields, habitus and capital – remains oriented toward the maintenance of control of the social/interactive space by the dominant legal and political institutions involved in the political asylum process. The paper is based on a current ethnographic investigation of interpreting activity in the political asylum application process in the United Kingdom.

Item Type:



habitus, field, Pierre Bourdieu, asylum system, norms

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


November 2005Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:41

Last Modified:

13 Mar 2013 14:54

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


Edit Record Edit Record (login required)