Publication Date

April 2019


Margot Weiss




English (United States)


This thesis undertakes a multilayered examination of the forms of implementation, impacts, and excluded meanings that arise when engaging in cross-cultural translation in both trauma-aware therapy and asylum offices. I draw upon both my work as an interpreter at the asylum office, as well as my experiences at two Bay Area NGOs that provide "trauma-informed" and "culturally-aware" psychosocial treatment for Latinx refugee, asylee, and immigrant populations, to explore the complex field of translation of cross-cultural encounter, linear and non-linear narrativized trauma and institutionalized categorization and treatment of suffering. First, I delve into core question of "culture,” in cross-cultural and “culturally-competent” therapy by comparing and contrasting the NGOs philosophies and practices. Second, I reflect on how translation in practice complicates simple ideas of referentiality and cultural competence, and I work toward a reading of translation as an active process of embedded, socially-located mediation. Third, I explore the tension between a curated, tidy, pragmatically approached narrative of the PTSD diagnosis, and the messiness and non-linear nature of trauma itself. Lastly, I locate trauma as a symbol and manifestation of the ineffable, seeking to explore what an alternative approach to narrative might look like were we to focus on the non-discursive quality of trauma.



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