‘Narratives of Forced Migration in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries’
University of Stirling, 16-18 September 2019
Professor Marianne Hirsch (Columbia University)
Professor Lyndsey Stonebridge (University of Birmingham)
The last century has seen millions of people displaced around the world as the result of war, persecution, or the end of empire. The current ‘migrant’ or ‘border crisis’ in the Mediterranean triggered by the war in Syria, uneven development in the Global South, and climate change is the most recent example of a succession of instances of forced mass migration. Within this long history of forced migration across continents and within Europe, we can also include the German Vertriebene, the French pieds-noirs, the Portuguese retornados, and forced migrants from the former Yugoslavia. These population movements posed acute political and social challenges to the receiving states, since they often embodied liminal positions being both citizens of receiving nation states and yet members of culturally distinct groups. These challenges often result in trauma for the individuals and families who experience them. In the longer term, migrants and receiving societies face the challenges of cultural integration, in which ethnicity, colonial ties, and the associated legal status may, paradoxically, both facilitate acceptance and create barriers to it. The large number of forced migrants involved has implications for nationhood and identity on a supranational scale, leading to the production of new forms of cultural memory and political formulations in the present.
This conference seeks to bring together and create a dialogue among scholars working on diverse geographical and historical instances of forced migration from a range of disciplinary perspectives in order to illuminate the processes of movement, integration, and commemoration which characterise them. The primary focus of the conference will be forced migrations that have highlighted and/or called into question the internal and external borders of Europe, although comparative case studies from beyond Europe are welcome. Above all, it seeks to assess the ‘connectedness’ of disparate cases of forced migrations and to consider the influence and impact of specific events on subsequent migrations and those groups involved in them. It builds on the historical and ethnographical work of scholars such as Andrea L. Smith (Europe’s Invisible Migrants, 2003) and Manuel Borutta and Jan Jansen (Vertriebene and Pieds-Noirs in Postwar Germany and France, 2016), and seeks to broaden their comparative analyses to consider other forced migrant groups, and to extend the scholarship into new disciplinary areas. The conference is interested in how narratives by and about forced migrants use imaginative means to make sense of and represent their experiences, and to construct post-migration identities through genres such as literature, film, music, photography, and documentary.
The conference committee welcomes proposals across disciplines of migration studies, cultural studies, history, politics, literature, visual culture, memory studies, and other relevant scholarly fields. The scope of the conference includes but is not limited to:
- Attitudes towards and reception of migrant groups
- The legalities of forced migration
- Impacts on nationhood and European identity
- Borderscapes and biopolitics
- State management of perceived ‘migrant crises’
- Forced migrants as political constituents and lobbying groups
- Gendered experiences of forced migration
- Queering migration
- Exile and trauma
- Nostalgia and constructions of ‘home’
- Cultural memory: inter-generational transmission, multidirectionality, and ‘connective’ narratives
- Public approaches to fostering integration
- (Re-)constructing community and diaspora
- Attempts at return
Please send proposals of 300 words and short bios for papers lasting 20 minutes to Dr. Beatrice Ivey at firstname.lastname@example.org by 28 February 2019. Proposals for three- or four-paper panels are also welcomed, as are proposals from postgraduate students and early-career researchers. The language of the conference is English.
The conference is funded by the AHRC, as part of the Leadership Fellows project, ‘Narratives and representations of the French settlers of Algeria’.