The incidence of empathy when interpreting in the field for vulnerable populations in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Manuel Barea Muñoz


This article describes the incidence of empathy in field interpreters who work with vulnerable populations in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Qualitative data was gathered via interviews conducted in 2018 with professional field interpreters working for international organizations (both freelancers and staffers), resulting in two paradigmatic narratives (one for each professional profile) aimed at preserving the participants’ anonymity. The narratives reveal a significant incidence of empathy in certain communicative situations, and views of empathy as both a hindrance and a useful emotion for the task at hand. The article suggests that such conflicting perceptions may be addressed empowering field interpreters to reconcile themselves with their own positionality through psychological training.


empathy; field interpreting; fragile contexts; vulnerable populations; Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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