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This article is a study of how the participation status of asylum-seeking children is interactively constructed in interpreter-mediated asylum hearings. We have undertaken a discourse analysis of 50 non-repair side-sequences from 26 hearings with Russian-speaking, asylum-seeking children in Sweden. A side-sequence is here defined as a monolingual sequence conducted in only one of the languages involved in the interviews. It involves the interpreter and only one of the primary interlocutors. In this article, four extracts are chosen for a micro-analysis in order to elucidate how interpreters can challenge asylum-seeking children’s participant statuses. We show that the right of the child to make his or her voice heard can be challenged, especially when the interpreters exclude, distort, discredit and guide the voices of the children, which is often done with the tacit approval of caseworkers.
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Keywords: asylum hearing; children; interpreter-mediated talk; participation rights; side-sequences

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 4, 2010

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  • International Journal of Research and Practice in Interpreting
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