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Interpreter-Mediated Encounters in Complex Humanitarian Settings: Language and Cultural Mediation at Emergency ONG Onlus

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Part of the Palgrave Studies in Languages at War book series (PASLW)


Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that provide aid to migrants and refugees involved in humanitarian crises after conflicts must meet language and mediation needs arising both in the war zone and faraway areas, as a direct consequence of conflicts and migration. Despite growing academic interest in the role of interpreters in conflicts, scant literature exists on the interpreters working for NGOs in complex humanitarian settings. Italian NGO Emergency ONG Onlus provides free healthcare to victims of wars and poverty and people in need in Italy and worldwide. Its cultural mediators carry out translation, socio-orientation and cultural mediation activities. Focusing on the role of Emergency’s cultural mediators, this chapter contends that language mediation is a form of humanitarian aid and promotes peace, solidarity and respect for human rights.


  • Humanitarian interpreting
  • NGOs
  • Cultural mediators
  • Emergency ONG Onlus

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  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-66909-6_12
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    “The Republic protects health as a fundamental right of the individual and in the interest of the community and guarantees free treatment to the destitute” (Costituzione della Repubblica Italiana 1948, 10, my translation).

  2. 2.

    The research study is part of an ongoing PhD project on humanitarian interpreting being carried out by the author under the supervision of Professor Lucía Ruiz Rosendo (Interpreting Department, Faculty of Translation and Interpreting, University of Geneva).

  3. 3.

    Emergency (2020). “Cultural Mediator.” Accessed 21 February 2020.

  4. 4.

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The author would like to thank Emergency ONG Onlus, specifically its Programma Italia, for granting authorization to access the Castel Volturno clinic. The author would also like to thank the clinic’s coordinator, Sergio Serraino, and all the cultural mediators working in Castel Volturno for the information shared and support given.

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Correspondence to Maura Radicioni .

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Radicioni, M. (2021). Interpreter-Mediated Encounters in Complex Humanitarian Settings: Language and Cultural Mediation at Emergency ONG Onlus. In: Todorova, M., Ruiz Rosendo, L. (eds) Interpreting Conflict. Palgrave Studies in Languages at War. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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