Technology in court settings: from a triadic exchange to a tetradic network

Devaux, Jerome (2021). Technology in court settings: from a triadic exchange to a tetradic network. In: 7th IATIS Conference: The cultural ecology of translation, 14-17 Sep 2021, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona.



The use of technologies in court settings is not a new phenomenon. Since the 1990s, videoconferencing (VC) systems in courts in England and Wales have been used so that a defendant or a witness can attend their court hearing remotely. Nowadays, all the courts are equipped with such technology and the recent Covid-19 pandemic has strengthened HM Courts and Tribunals Services’ digital agenda to strive for “fully video hearings” [sic.] (HM Courts and Tribunal Service, 2020).
Research has revealed that VC systems influence various facets of the court interaction, be it in a mono- or multi-lingual setting (e.g.: Avidicus projects). One particular research area examines the extent to which VC systems affect the interpreter’s perceptions of their role and agency (e.g.: Devaux, 2017, 2018; Fowler 2012, 2013). Findings demonstrate that interpreters’ perceptions differ greatly. However, the reason(s) why the use of technologies affects interpreters differently remains unclear. Anchored within Actor-Network Theory and, more specifically, within Callon (1986)’s sociological construct of Translation, this paper argues that the use of technologies impacts on interpreters differently, depending on how interpreters navigate Callon (1986)’s four phases of Translation. More importantly, this paper argues that as technologies play an integral part in videoconference interpreting (VCI) assignments, research in Interpreting Studies needs to account for technology as a fully-fledged participant. As a result, we are witnessing a paradigm shift from Mason (2001)’s traditional triadic exchange to the creation of a tetradic network.

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