CfP: 'Leaving Europe: Alternative Routes of Out/Upward Mobility' (KU Leuven Conference) - Deadline 20 March 2018

Jaafar Alloul's picture
Call for Papers
September 13, 2018 to September 14, 2018
Subject Fields: 
Colonial and Post-Colonial History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Race Studies, Social Sciences, World History / Studies




Call for papers

Place & Date: KU Leuven, Belgium, September 13-14, 2018
Keynote Speakers: Ayse Caglar (University of Vienna), Ghassan Hage (The University of Melbourne) 


Who is leaving Europe today and why? With few exceptions, social science scholarship has not paid much attention to contemporary forms of European emigration. Western Europe has traditionally featured as a major (colonial) center of economic, political and cultural influence in the world, and thus as a core destination for all sorts of immigrant and capital flows. Recently, scholars have started to look at intra-European migration circuits following the economic and financial crisis, yet, when notions of ‘home’ are involved, Europe remains often studied as an endpoint rather than a site of departure. Furthermore, literature on European emigration is mainly premised on such ideas as individual choice, professional strategies, cosmopolitan openness to the world, or the search for (lifestyle) adventure, rather than evoking modes of structural necessity or wider existential concerns. 

This conference endeavors to question such premises by addressing phenomena of transit/departure/emigration in/from Europe (and the West). More precisely it aims to understand in what extent contemporary social dynamics of precarity, social friction and discriminatory modes of abjection contribute to the emergence of emigration aspirations among specific publics including, for example, inhabitants of impoverished neighborhoods, ethno-religious minorities, or un(der)employed youth. Thus, we invite scholars to engage with the idea of ‘decentering/provincializing’ Europe (Chakrabarty 2007) in an effort to ‘decolonize’ (Grosfoguel 2007) migration studies. The conference provides a space of discussion for:

  • Historical, ethnographic, or other social-scientific investigations of European (and Western) emigration flows, be it forms of reverse migration (to so-called countries of origin) or detailing altogether novel migratory pathways (of 'expats' or highly-skilled workers).
  • Accounts of emerging migration aspirations, desires and/or strategies of ‘exit’ in European Member States (and the West), be it of people already on-the-move or those that (are still forced/choosing to) stay put.
  • Papers that focus specifically on the contemporary whereabouts of un/ease (un/homeliness or un/heimlichkeit) of ‘second and third generation immigrant’ minorities in Europe, with non-EU backgrounds and/or of ‘Muslim’ signature (e.g. Maghrebi, Arab, Turkish, Balkan, Iranian, Pakistani, Afghani).
  • Studies that unpack the ways in which such ‘hyper-visible’ minorities in Europe (& the West) navigate an increasingly politicized and racialized ‘home’ context, and the strategies by which they (re)negotiate degrees of privilege.  
  • Cases of secondary/onward emigration of migrants living in Europe and currently reorienting their projects to destinations outside of the EU (e.g. US, Canada, GCC, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore).
  • Analytical accounts on global, national, and local 'migration infrastructures' and 'regimes of mobility', in which flows of European migration are/remain embedded.
  • Ethnographic accounts on 'home-making' processes by European (& Western) nationals in global cities outside the EU, and their signifying practices of distinction overseas (class, race, gender, privilege regimes, social mobility, status performance).

We welcome proposals for papers from a diverse range of doctoral, post-doctoral, and advanced researchers from Anthropology, Sociology, Geography, History, Migration Studies, Political Science and International/Global Studies. 


Candidates are asked to submit an extended abstract (500 words) of their contribution by March 25, 2018. Acceptance notifications will be delivered shortly afterwards. 

Abstract need to include a brief presentation of the main topic(s), shed light on the empirical material(s), and allude to the theoretical groundings on which it is built.

Participants will be expected to provide an extensive draft (3000-5000 words) prior to the conference, by August 31, 2018. 

Limited funding (for junior scholars) may be available (tbc).

All applications and queries have to be sent to the following two contact addresses:

Jaafar Alloul:

Jérémy Mandin:

Publication Outcome

The event is conceived as a preparation for a journal special issue. Therefore, we can only select original materials that have not been published previously.


The conference is organized by KU Leuven’s Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Center (IMMRC), with the collaboration of the Center for Ethnic and Migration Studies (CEDEM) of the University of Liège, and the Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR) of the University of Amsterdam. The conference will be held in Belgium, at the premises of KU Leuven in the city of Leuven on September 13-14, 2018.

Contact Info: 

Jaafar Alloul

Ph.D candidate KU Leuven (IMMRC) & University of Amsterdam (AISSR)

KU Leuven
Faculty of Social Sciences
Department of Social & Cultural Anthropology
IMMRC – Interculturalism, Migration and Minorities Research Center
Parkstraat 45, 3000 Leuven, Belgium​​​