An Interdisciplinary Conference on Displacement, Emplacement, and Migration
Call for Papers
Migration is one of the most prominent cultural, socio-political, and economic questions of our time. In both industrialised and less developed countries, it would be hard to find people who do not have a personal experience of migration and its effects, which ultimately ‘become the hallmark of the age of migration’ (Castles et al., 2013). According to the World Migration Report 2020, international migrants consist of only 3.6% (281 million) of the world population, and they make ‘significant sociocultural, civic-political and economic contributions in origin and destination countries and community’ (WMR, 2020). However, a great majority of people do not migrate across borders; instead, a large number of people migrate within countries. That said, the number of international migrants has increased over time – both numerically and proportionally – and at a faster rate than anticipated (WMR, 2020). Whether internal or cross-border, whether voluntary or forced, migration occurs for a variety of factors that are influenced by and rooted in regional and national, local and global interrelations, social and technological networks, organisations and institutions.
In speaking about migration, one cannot ignore the possible intensification of migrants feeling displaced and their effort to re-embed their lives in host localities. The concept of displacement evokes images of being cut off from social and physical worlds that one calls home, which generates differentiated accounts of dispossession, disruption, and dislocation. The possible response to displacement includes a variety of facets from a sense of exile, the development of a global consciousness, the formation of a hybrid identity, to finding a new place in the host localities. The feeling of being cut off pushes migrants to open up and advance the notion of place-making or emplacement. Roberto Castillo provides a useful definition of place-making as ‘a process [that] transforms space into familiar places and generates personal attachments and commitments – it is often used as a survival strategy and as a tool to unveil opportunities in a new place’ (Castillo, 2014). Thus, everyday place-making or emplacement is material and practical, resulting in migrants leaving traces in the places they cross. Emplacement, therefore, is a place-making practice where migrants repeatedly tell stories about their former homes, maintain connections to imaginary or real places of belonging, and reorganise the new homes into common categories.
In the academic sphere, creative analyses of all immigrant narratives are primarily associated with integration, pluralism and hybridity; however, they miss acknowledging that these narratives are laden with instances of suffering, tragedy, and feelings of alienation and loss. Moreover, these analyses address the issues of Multiculturalism and often tend to emphasise its failure by frequently citing security issues without addressing the weaknesses of the state policies. This conference seeks to discuss the various dimensions within migration studies by acknowledging the intertwined relationship between displacement, migration, and emplacement. Based on a literary and culturally induced understanding of the phenomenon, it advocates migration narratives as sites of resistance and resilience. Despite the fictional aspects of migration literature, it is also an illustration of a given society’s socio-historical values and culture. Therefore, this conference also wants to understand the social, political, and historical impact of displacement, emplacement and migration from an interdisciplinary perspective.
We are particularly interested in discussions on how different theoretical, analytical, and methodological approaches to the literary, cultural, and socio-political representation of displacement and emplacement shape popular perceptions about migration.
Possible areas for contributions include but are certainly not limited to:
- How do displacement and emplacement inform our understanding of migration and the migrant journey?
- How does displacement problematise the migrant experience?
- To what extent are migrant lives made possible, lived, and contested in the context of permanent or temporal emplacement?
- What function do class, ethnicity, religion, language, and nationality play in the migrant experience?
- How are displacement, emplacement, and migration being represented in literary, cultural or media texts?
We invite young scholars and PhD candidates to submit abstracts of around 300 words along with a brief bio statement (in one file) to conference.bagralcm(at)uni-bamberg.de no later than December 31, 2021. We will send out notifications within a week so you can plan your trip and come to Bamberg.
The conference will feature keynote lectures by Prof. emerit. William Boelhower (Louisiana State University) and Prof. Jopy Nyman (Eastern Finland University), as well as a panel discussant, the name of whom will be announced later.
This conference is organized by Bamberg Graduate School of Literary, Cultural, and Media Studies (BaGraLCM) in cooperation with the Chair for English Literature Studies at the University of Bamberg, Germany. The conference is scheduled to take place on June 24-26, 2022, as an in-person offline event, of course observing any precautions that may be in place then; we are simply hoping for actual people in a room, great coffee breaks, and good live conversation. There is no conference fee; all are welcome.
A selection of essays based on the conference papers will be published in an edited volume from the University of Bamberg Press.