About Shadow Heroes

Shadow Heroes runs series of creative workshops for secondary schools and universities, with three main aims:

  • To demonstrate the power of translation to teach critical thinking, creativity and linguistic dexterity
  • To rethink language-learning as a socially inclusive endeavour
  • To highlight the fun, varied and cross-disciplinary nature of working with languages

Translation is a powerful process of mediation, one which allows us to both express our ideas and reflect on them. It can encourage us to examine the way we use language and the implications of our linguistic choices, creating a space where students can question their own assumptions and develop their self-awareness.

Tailor-made for each student group, our workshops introduce students to excellent writers, poets, singers and artists who might otherwise be off their radar, through a wide range of languages and perspectives. Throughout, the aim is to help students grow in confidence as natural linguists and critical thinkers.

Schools are invited to develop their own workshop series in collaboration with Shadow Heroes. For more information, see our workshops. We also offer presentations about translation, and our work. Please contact us for more information.

Our approach

The Shadow Heroes approach has three central tenets: 

Multilingual classrooms

Shadow Heroes workshops are non-language specific, looking to build broad linguistic awareness and skills. They challenge the way certain languages are seen as the valuable ones to learn, so others aren’t. Drawing on the full range of languages spoken in the classroom, our workshops address disempowering tensions among multilingual students, and allow the students to take ownership of their particular language skills in a group setting.

Networked approach

Shadow Heroes works with a range of leading professionals to offer expert knowledge and diverse frames of reference to our students. Our guest workshop leaders include translators working with under-represented languages, university lecturers, subtitlers, interpreters and actors. Approachable points of contact, they are also an inspiring hook into the world of languages at this crucial stage in students’ education. 

We also collaborate with likeminded organisations including the Stephen Spender Trust, the Free Word Centre, the Poetry Translation Centre, SOAS Centre for Translation, the British Library and the South Ken Kids Festival, all of which prioritise the empowerment of young people through access to linguistic and literary excellence. 

Tailored workshop series

Each workshop series is tailored to the student group in question. Working closely with our liaison teacher, we develop a series which takes into account pupils’ interests and educational needs to create a socially cohesive learning environment. For more information about how we can develop a series that is shaped around your students, please contact us.

Our team

Gitanjali Patel Co-founder and Director

Gitanjali is a translator and social researcher. She graduated from Oxford University in Spanish and Portuguese and has been translating from these languages since 2010. She translates in a range of media, from film scripts and radio programmes to fiction, including stories by Luisa Geisler, Miriam Mambrini, Fernanda Torres and, most recently, Evando Nascimento. She has a Master’s degree in Social Anthropology from SOAS, University of London, and has used translation for several social research projects, including studies on the emergence of favela community museums as tools of resistance, which won the Jon M. Tolman award at the BRASA XIV Congress.

Jessie Spivey Research and Communications Manager

Alongside her work for Shadow Heroes, Jessie can be found at independent publisher Les Fugitives. She has previously worked teaching English in France and Catalonia, and bookselling in London. She translates from French and has worked on projects for Emmaus International and the first of the Hotel Cordel series: Detour/Détours.

Our collaborators

Ayça Türkoğlu is a literary translator from German and Turkish into English. She studied European and Middle Eastern Languages at the University of Oxford before completing her MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia. Her writing and translations have been published in Words Without Borders, In Other Words and renk magazine. She is passionate about minority languages, class and German-Turkish culture and is working on a co-translation of Selim Özdoğan’s The Blacksmith’s Daughter, forthcoming from V&Q Books (2021). She is currently learning Welsh and Ancient Greek.

Harriet Phillips graduated from the University of Cambridge in Russian and German. She spent her Year Abroad studying in St Petersburg, where she collaborated extensively with the feminist project Eve’s Ribs. She has spoken about Russian feminist activism at Pushkin House in London and is the winner of the 2020 University of Warsaw Prize for Literary Translation. An avid linguist, she has studied French, Spanish, German, Italian, Modern Greek, Polish and Ukrainian to date.

Khairani Barokka is an Indonesian writer, poet and artist in London whose work has been presented extensively, in 15 countries. She was Modern Poetry in Translation‘s Inaugural Poet-in-Residence, and is Researcher-in-Residence and Research Fellow at UAL’s Decolonising Arts Institute. Her books are Rope (Nine Arches) and Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis; Vietnamese translation by Red (Yen Hai), AJAR Press), and she is co-editor of Stairs and Whispers: D/deaf and Disabled Poets Write Back (Nine Arches). You can find out more about Khairani’s work here.

Naima Rashid is an author, poet, and literary translator. She has translated works by Perveen Shakir (Defiance of the Rose, Oxford University Press, 2019), and is translating Naulakhi Kothi by Ali Akbar Natiq (forthcoming, Penguin India, 2022), both from Urdu into English. Her forthcoming works include her own fiction, poetry, and other works of literary translation. Her work has appeared in Asymptote, The Scores, Poetry at Sangam, Newsline magazine, and The Aleph Review, among others. She was recently long-listed for the 2019 National Poetry Competition.

Nariman Youssef is a Cairo-born, London-based, semi-freelance translator. Working between Arabic and English, she part-time manages a translation team at the British Library. Her literary translations include Inaam Kachachi’s The American Granddaughter, Donia Kamal’s Cigarette No. 7, and she has contributions published in Words Without Borders, The Common, Banipal Magazine, and the poetry anthologies Beirut39 and The Hundred Years’ War.

Reem Abou-El-Fadl is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East at SOAS, University of London, and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. She is a heritage speaker of Arabic and learned Turkish during her studies at the University of Oxford. She is currently translating an Arabic language memoir on Egyptian and African liberation movements, and uses Arabic and Turkish to English translations extensively in her research. Her work explores the politics of protest, decolonisation, and transnational solidarity in Middle East and Afro-Asian spaces.

Sawad Hussain is an Arabic translator and litterateur with an MA in Modern Arabic Literature from SOAS. A regular contributor to journals such as ArabLit and Asymptote, she has assessed Arabic works for English PEN Translation grants and was co-editor of the Arabic-English portion of the award-winning Oxford Arabic Dictionary (2014). She has lectured at IAIS and the University of Exeter, and taught KS3 & KS4 Arabic in Johannesburg and Dubai. Her recent translations include a Palestinian resistance classic by Sahar Khalifeh.

Yuka Harada-Parr is a freelance Japanese-English translator, interpreter, illustrator and cartoonist. She has also been a teacher of Japanese language and culture at English primary and higher educational colleges for over 10 years and works as an oral examiner for Japanese GCSE. Her unique teaching style mixes art, craft, visual and auditory methods in order to inspire her students about the Japanese language. She is currently completing an MA in Translation Studies at SOAS, University of London. 

Our board of advisors

Daniel Hahn, award-winning translator, writer and editor, with some seventy books to his name.

Khairani Barokka is an Indonesian writer, poet and artist in London whose work has been presented extensively, in 15 countries.

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún is a linguist, writer, and scholar. He is the first African awardee of the Premio Ostana, a prize given by Chambra D’Oc in Italy, for work and advocacy in the mother tongue.

Mandana Seyfeddinipur, psycholinguist and director of the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme and Head of the Endangered Languages Archive at SOAS University of London.

Nina Kelly is a communications strategist. She is Editor at race equality think tank the Runnymede Trust. A former journalist, Nina has provided communications leadership for human rights organisations over many years. She is fluent in Italian and Teeline Shorthand.

Preti Taneja is a writer, editor and activist. Her novel We That Are Young (Galley Beggar Press, 2017) won and was nominated for awards worldwide. She teaches writing in prisons, and lectures in Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

Sophie Lewis co-founded Shadow Heroes. She is an award-winning translator from French and Portuguese and an editor, most recently at And Other Stories and the Folio Society.

Yansé Cooper is a school leader with over 10 ten years of experience in teaching Modern Foreign Languages in state secondary schools across London. She graduated from Durham university with a first in Modern Languages and Cultures and completed an MSC in Education at Oxford University. She is currently in charge of Initial Teacher Training and is French and Spanish Lead Teacher in a secondary school in North London.

Our partners

Darf Publishers is a London-based independent publisher with diversity and inclusion at the heart of its work. Since 2014, Darf has been set on establishing itself as a leading publisher in translating new emerging writers from around the world into English. Recent publications included works of fiction, non-fiction and children’s books from Libya, Sudan, Eritrea, Yemen, Syria, Egypt, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, the Faroe Islands, Indonesia and Japan.


Four times a year, Granta, Britain’s most prestigious literary magazine brings you the best new fiction, reportage, memoir, poetry and photography from around the world, publishing many of the world’s finest writers tackling some of the most important subjects, from intimate human experiences to the dramatic public and political events that have shaped our lives.

National Centre for Writing

NCW celebrates and explores the artistic and social power of creative writing and literary translation. Our Visible Communities programme works with partners to diversify access routes to literary translation, strengthen links with diaspora and heritage language communities, contribute to the debate around decolonising literary translation and expand the range of literature published in English translation.


Poetry Translation Centre

The Poetry Translation Centre introduces contemporary poets from Africa, Asia and Latin America to new audiences through books, online resources and bilingual events, forging enduring relations with diaspora communities and exploring the craft of translation through hands-on workshops.

Pushkin Press

Pushkin Press was founded in 1997, and publishes novels, essays, memoirs, children’s books—everything from timeless classics to the urgent and contemporary. Pushkin Press publishes the world’s best stories, to be read and read again.

Translators in Schools

Launched in 2013, Translators in Schools is a professional development programme to widen the pool of translators and teachers with the skills to run creative translation workshops in schools.

South Ken Kids Festival

Under the patronage of Quentin Blake, and organised by the Institut français du Royaume-Uni, for over two decades the South Ken Kids Festival has been promoting the best of children’s literature and fostering exchanges between authors and illustrators from both sides of the Channel.

SOAS Centre for Translation Studies

The CTS explores and develops area-based Translation Studies across Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Addressing questions of Translation Studies, which has developed largely based on western languages, the CTS aims to shed light on regional translation practice, theory, and philosophy.

The Queen’s College Translation Exchange

The Queen’s College Translation Exchange is an initiative at The Queen’s College, University of Oxford. It brings together expertise in literary translation and outreach in Oxford and beyond to develop inspiring translation-related activities for students, schools, and the public.

University of Greenwich Centre for Research and Enterprise in Language

CREL provides a focal point for interdisciplinary research in language at the University of Greenwich and provides opportunities for research and enterprise collaborations with partners in the UK and overseas. CREL also fosters activities that bring the interdisciplinary work on language to the community and wider audiences. 

University of York Department of Education

Shadow Heroes partners with Dr Clémentine Beauvais, a Senior Lecturer in English in Education at the Department of Education. The Department hosts several research centres of relevance to (inter)cultural and literary approaches to translation (CRESJ), (CRELLU). The University is currently also the home of the National Centre for Excellence in Language Pedagogy (NCELP).

Our supporters


The Camden Collective