Refugee, (Im)Migrant, and Displaced Motherhood in America

Maria Lombard's picture
Call for Papers
December 1, 2019
Illinois, United States
Subject Fields: 
American History / Studies, Immigration & Migration History / Studies, Literature, Borderlands, Women's & Gender History / Studies

Contributions are invited for a scholarly edited collection that aims to explore literary accounts of migrant, refugee, and displaced motherhood in America. Refugees and migrants are often unseen, or worse seen as an inconvenience or imposition.  Migrant mothers in particular are often overlooked, with their experiences, their needs, and their lives nearly erased. Vu Tran says that “for those who can never quite accept her, a refugee is like a ghost” (p. 154).  This book seeks to examine writings by and about the displaced mother that make her part of a collective imagination, memory, and mythology of the American conscience.


Just as we see today in stories from the US/Mexican border, America is a nation of immigrants that continues to see complicated migration and immigration.  Indigenous mothers traverse complex paths at our Northern borders, and refugee mothers seek to resettle their families from wars and other dangers. 


This book will look primarily at contemporary writings about migrant and refugee mothers in America. This collection is particularly interested in analysis of first-hand accounts of migrant motherhood, while also recognizing that the migrant mother is often silent. Therefore, analysis of both fictional and non-fiction accounts may be of importance as the collection pieces together the fragmented lives of migrant mothers. 


Dina Nayeri has examined the refugee experience in both her fictional and non-fiction works, Refuge and The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You. In the latter, her non-fiction account, Nayeri talks about how her own mother made the brave decision to take her small children and leave home to ultimately settle in America.  Nayeri says of the refugee, “A tortured mind, terror of a wasted future, is what enables you to abandon home; it’s a prerequisite for stepping into a dingy, for braving militarized mountains” (p. 8).  


The journey of the migrant woman is made evermore complex by her status as a mother, a child-bearer, and a woman at-risk. The borders of motherhood to be examined in this collection can be linguistic, political, and geographical, along with the complex physicality of moving through liminal and transitory spaces. Chapters may explore a range of topics from the mother figure in refugee children’s literature to ethnographic studies of migrant mothers in detention facilities. 


I am in talks with several highly reputable academic publishers, including Bloomsbury, that are interested in the collection.


Possible topics might look critically at (but not limited to):

  • Narratives about or by migrant or refugee mothers
  • Fictionalized accounts of migrant motherhood
  • Reproduction and migration
  • Rhetoric of migrant motherhood
  • Family separation
  • Family resettlement 
  • Research and qualitative studies on women’s experiences as migrant or refugee mothers
  • Refugee children’s literature and the mother figure



Tran, Vu. “A Refugee Again” In The Displaced: Refugee Writers on Refugee Lives, Edited by 

Viet Thanh Nguyen, Abrams, NY, NY, 2018


Nayeri, Dina. The Ungrateful Refugee: What Immigrants Never Tell You. Catapult, NY, 2019.

            Refuge, Riverhead, NY, 2017.





1 December 2019: Deadline for submitting 250-400 word abstract of your chapter and a 50-word bio.


1 April 2019: Accepted and complete chapters due (6,000 words maximum with MLA format and references)