Narratives in conflict and the limits on the interpreter’s agency: A case study from the UN Peacekeeping mission in Lebanon




intercultural mediation; military context; interpreting training; narratives; agency


This article presents a socio-linguistic analysis of interpreting in conflict zones and paints a picture of the limits on the interpreter’s agency when working in the field. It focuses on the interpreter’s behaviour towards cultural and linguistic barriers in communication between foreign military personnel and the civilian population in Lebanon. The aim is to analyse the level of agency that the interpreter has when working in a military deployment, taking into account the context and the narrative features that require mediation. Data were gathered through interviews with interpreters in Lebanon and analysed by applying narrative theory. Knowing and appreciating both the theoretical context and the linguistic and cultural barriers identified through the analysis are fundamental to understanding the difficult role that the interpreter-mediator plays in conflict settings and to reflecting on interpreter training that is appropriate to this context.

Author Biography

Yolanda Moreno-Bello, CETAPS-Universidade NOVA de Lisboa

Yolanda Moreno-Bello specializes on interpreting in vulnerable and conflict settings by applying transnational and intersectional approaches of sociolinguistics. She holds an international PhD from Universidad de Alcalá and Université Saint Joseph- Beyrouth. She has collaborated with a number of universities, such as the University of Nairobi and the Pan-African Consortium of Masters in Translation and Interpreting where she carried out a postdoctoral research focused on the access to women’s sexual and reproductive health.  Since 2017 she is a member of CETAPS, Universidade NOVA de Lisboa and she is currently carrying out field research in Nigeria.


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How to Cite

Moreno-Bello, Y. (2021). Narratives in conflict and the limits on the interpreter’s agency: A case study from the UN Peacekeeping mission in Lebanon. Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series – Themes in Translation Studies, 20.



Articles - Interpreter Research and Training - The Impact of Context