From the complex mix of amnesia, nostalgia, denial, and/or return emerge the itinerant memories of migrant groups. The forthcoming issue of Diasporas: Histoires et sociétés seeks submissions relating to the theme of migrant memories, the dynamics shaping the collective memories of migrant experiences, and the ways in which these memories take on a material form. Contributions are encouraged from specialists of social science and humanities based disciplines.
Since Gérard Noiriel commented on the near absence of immigrant lieux de mémoire, a flurry of memorial activity has taken place, and nowhere has this been more evident than in those European States which have been traversed, nourished, and indeed shaped by the phenomenon of migration. Much attention is focused on the retrospective, and yet contemporary preocupations are never completely out of sight. In the quest for recognition, certain communities display a fixation with the past which is without precedent. The memorial activities of migrant associations often seek justice against the silence, occlusion, and absence of their histories from the commemorative activities of the nation states in which they reside.
Initiating a commemorative project is a necessarily creative process involving actions and landmarks, the material and the metaphoric, all of which serve to give substance to the memory in question. There are a multitude of forms open to analysis; ceremonies, pilgrimage, and memorial rituals instantly spring to mind. Other examples include cultural events, live performance, and protest movements. The investigation of the various modes through which history is both reappropriated and commemorated raises issues questions concerning the interplay between the past and contemporary identities:
What are the dynamics shaping the appearance of a memorial and commemorative culture within a given community?
Is there a militant dimension to these new forms of public expression?
To what extent do transnational relations appear to awaken memories of former migratory networks, such as in the case of twin town arrangements?
References to migrant memories not only concern the identities of the migrant groups themselves but also implicate the identities of the nations in which migrants reside. This is particularly evident in the construction of national museums dedicated to the histories and memories of immigration. The project to establish a ‘Cité nationale de l’histoire de l’immigration’ in France is a case in point. A necessary question revolves around the representational practices of such institutions; how can the myriad of processes characterising displacement be reconstituted with a view to producing some form of shared memory? Commemorations, the invention of heritage, the production of memory, contemporary demands, all involve a range of memorial activities that share neither the same goal nor the same degree of exposure.
Instructions for submissions
In the first instance, abstracts not more than one page in length, together with biographical details of the contributor should be submitted before December 5th, 2004.
Please provide an electronic copy together with a hard copy. All articles that are subsequently selected are subject to the evaluation by two suitably qualified referees and to the editorial committee’s approval.
Articles may be written in either English or French. The end of January 2005 is the final submission date for completed articles.
The length should not exceed more than 30,000 characters, spaces and footnotes included.
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