There has been a recent surge of scholarship from human geography, sociology, history, architecture, and cultural studies that focuses on migration as a social, political, cultural and material process. This area of research on migration examines migrants’ transnational spatial practices, social and political identities and relationships with the state. Central to this research has been a recognition that at the heart of migration lies a fundamental transformation in spaces and places that are linked to the social and cultural meanings of home and belonging.
This conference takes ‘narratives’ – broadly defined as stories, diaries, myths, photographs, music, films, media images and representations of movement – as the analytical starting point for new research on migration. Narratives have several dimensions. Firstly, migrant narratives need to be understood as inherently spatial. As is widely acknowledged, migrants’ stories of movement are often stories of different places at different moments, and thus are essentially ‘spatial stories’. Secondly, this spatiality of migration narratives is multi-scalar; it can relate to belonging on a national, political scale, represent locality dynamics, more small-scale, personal experiences of migration, or even the material narratives of migration, such as stories of significant objects and material culture. Thirdly, the performative element of migrants’ narratives is very strong; not all narratives are textual but instead are enacted through music, theatre, film, food, or dance. Finally, such narratives can also be highly visual, corporeal, and embodied, whether through media representations, artwork, or architecture. Such a broad conceptualisation of migrant narratives demands new interdisciplinary theories and methodologies to understand the interconnected landscapes of home, migration and the city.
This conference thus aims to question and compare such narratives and counter-narratives, in different contexts within Europe and beyond, through interdisciplinary perspectives from the humanities and social sciences. Methodological perspectives will therefore be central to the discussions during this conference, to encourage and disseminate interdisciplinary approaches to researching migration. The following questions will help to shape this conference:
• How are narratives of migration used, shared, remembered, materialised, performed and represented in different contexts?
• How do narratives shape belonging and attachment, inclusions and exclusions, around ideas of home(s) and the city?
• How do we examine these diverse narratives of movement through theoretical and methodological innovation?
This conference invites paper and poster presentations which investigate one more of the three conference themes; narratives of migration; materialities of home and movement; and cities, places, locations. It also invites submissions for a panel discussion with six young researchers working with new cross-cutting methodologies around these three themes.
Theme 1: Narratives of Migration
The first theme of the conference will deal with a range of methodological approaches to understanding the narratives of home – textual, aural, performative, and visual, which scrutinise, document and theorise migrants’ perspectives of migration. This may include oral histories, autobiographies, personal photographs, memorabilia, food recipes, artwork, music and films, as well as a range of other non/textual material that attempt to redefine the social, political, cultural and imaginative constructions of migration and movement.
Theme 2: Materialities of Home and Movement
This theme will consider the varying constructions of home and sites of travel, by inviting a diverse array of approaches and methodologies. The questions we ask are – where do home-spaces end – how far do they extend – and how are the spaces between home, locale, and homeland experienced? How is home narrated, and how can researchers tap into this? How can sites of travel be researched?
Theme 3: Cities, Places, Locations
Situated within broader debates around place and displacement, location and mobility, settlement and return, this theme will examine the various locations within migrant landscapes and the ways in which they reflect and influence cultures, politics, identities and narratives. The focus will be particularly on the varieties of ways that such landscapes are transformed and negotiated from the scale of the home, to neighbourhoods, to cities and homelands.
For more information, to send abstracts, and to register please see
Young researchers are particularly welcome. The conference has limited funds to fully or partially support expenses of young researchers.
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