Paper proposals and round-table participants are being sought for the Mediterranean Seminar’s two-day Spring 2022 Workshop, to be held at Rutgers University-Newark on 6 & 7 May on the subject “Crisis and Displacement.”
The intense movement of people around the Mediterranean has dominated the media in recent years. Images of families crossing land and sea borders and of overcrowded boats capsizing at sea are often meant to draw attention to the “crisis” that the European Union and its member states have faced with the arrival of thousands of people coming from the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean. Yet crises such as wars, expulsions and population transfers, climate anomalies, and pandemics have resulted in the mass displacement of populations across the Mediterranean throughout millennia. Moreover, these population displacements have not always or exclusively followed a northward or westward direction coming from the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean. One only has to think of the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Sephardic Jews (1492) and Moriscos—Muslims forcibly converted to Catholicism—(1609), or the mass migration of millions of Europeans in their colonial enterprises in North Africa, to know that this contemporary narrative emphasizing Europe as main receiver of refugees should be understood against a more deeply historicized background. Taking the contested category of “Crisis” (environmental, political, disease-related, humanitarian, etc…) as our point of departure, this workshop proposes to study human displacements as a Mediterranean phenomenon that can and should be examined diachronically and spatially. Taking the Mediterranean as a geographical unit, this longue durée approach seeks to highlight continuities and ruptures, as well as connections that are often obscured by temporal constraints and national narratives.
For the workshop (to be held on Friday, 6 May), we invite abstracts of in-progress drafts of articles or book/dissertation chapters on any subject (historical, cultural, literary, artistic, historiographical, sociological or anthropological) relating to issues of crisis (broadly construed) and displacement in the premodern or modern Mediterranean. The aim of this workshop is to offer opportunities to explore parallel and/or connected historical processes that move us away from narratives that privilege certain historical moments, specific cases, or that understand contemporary experiences of displacements as singular and exceptional. Papers from history, art history, literary and cultural studies, or any relevant Humanities or Social Sciences disciplines are welcome. Our Mediterranean is construed geographically as including southern Europe, the Near East, North Africa, and into the Black Sea and Central Asia, and the Red Sea and the western Indian Ocean; however, scholars who work on analogous themes in other periods and regions are encouraged to apply.
All North American-based scholars (or foreign scholars who will be in the US at this time) working on relevant material are encouraged to apply. Scholars from further abroad may apply but we cannot pay full travel costs. ABD PhD students, junior and non-tenure track faculty are particularly welcome to apply.
The workshop will also feature a keynote presentation by Aslı Iğsız, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at NYU, and current fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University. She is the author of Humanism in Ruins: Entangled Legacies of the Greek-Turkish Population Exchange (Stanford University Press, 2018).
On the second day, Saturday 7 May, a one-day symposium on “Crisis, Migration, and Displacements in the Mediterranean” will feature three round-table conversations focusing on the following questions:
1) Environmental determinism or human agency/ collapse or resilience– how can these be disentangled in the history of Mediterranean society and culture?
2) Can we talk about a discrete “Mediterranean” phenomenon of human displacement that might provide a novel analytical model to study different cases comparatively or in a connected manner?
3) How do crises that provoke displacements shape literary cultural and artistic expressions?
The symposium will close with a concert “Mediterranean Crossings” featuring music from around the Mediterranean by the Rutgers University-Newark Middle East Music Orchestra, directed by Ahmed Erdoğdular.
The concert will be followed by a second keynote address by Sylvia Alajaji, Associate Professor of Music at Franklin and Marshall University, and author of Music and the Armenian Diaspora: Searching for Home in Exile (Indiana University Press, 2015).
Participants will be expected to attend the entire two-day symposium.
In principle, workshop presenters will have travel and accommodation covered and round-table participants will have accommodation covered (with travel subsidies for round-table participants contingent on the final budget).
Deadline for proposals 15 February.
A separate call for non-presenting workshop and symposium attendees will go out in early March.
Brian A. Catlos, University of Colorado Boulder
Mayte Green-Mercado, Rutgers University – Newark
Sharon Kinoshita, University of California Santa Cruz
This workshop is sponsored and supported by the Office of the Chancellor at Rutgers University-Newark, the School of Arts and Sciences (SASN), the Federated Department of History, and the Mediterranean Displacements Project at Rutgers University-Newark.
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The Mediterranean Seminar