The soaring number of international migrants during the second half of the nineteenth century and the rise in the circulation of personal correspondence across national borders are parallel phenomena. Long-distance separation created the need to write among large numbers of people--many of whom had little or no schooling. Long-distance, dependable transportation and standardized postal systems contributed to the increased mobility of migrants and the delivery of their letters to and from home. Correspondence became the medium through which migrants and their families stayed connected, serving as channels for the circulation of news and advice. Long distance correspondence helped shape relationships and affective bonds under new circumstances. Letters were key vehicles through which migrants re/created and negotiated identities as they confronted new experiences and adapted to changing realities. Correspondence also provided opportunities for migrants and non-migrants to make sense of their separation, and reflect about themselves.
Migrant correspondence provides scholars with an important window onto the material and emotional realities of transnational lives of individuals and families. Following the initial efforts of Theodore Blegen, William Thomas and Florian Znaniecki, migrant correspondence generated substantial scholarly interest. The past decade has witnessed a resurgence in scholarship, with the development of new questions, approaches, and methodologies. This new research advances the study of the migrant letter in exciting directions which incorporate key analytical insights and methods from emerging fields of enquiry in literary and linguistic analyses, transnational studies, and the history of emotions. The result has been a growing interdisciplinary scholarship that approaches the migrant letter as both a source and a historical artifact, and especially, as a genre with its own discursive conventions.
We seek contributions for a special issue of the journal The History of the Family dedicated to migrant correspondence. Contributions should reflect current historiographical developments, and explore the migrant letter as a lens onto the migrant experience from a personal and familial perspective. We encourage contributions that examine migrant epistolarity as a specific genre with its range of analytical complexities, opportunities, and limitations. We are interested in empirical studies that look at new perspectives, and lesser known or underrepresented cases, as well as theoretical and methodological discussions. We welcome manuscripts that explore, but are not limited to, issues relating to: gender and family relations; personal and social identities in contexts of geographic mobility; processes of negotiation of personal and family strategies of migration; affective bonds among transnational families, friends, and couples; narratives of intimacy and emotions; discursive conventions in historical and linguistic perspectives; and the blurry public and private worlds in migrant correspondence.
Proposals should include a 500 word abstract and an abbreviated CV. Manuscripts must not exceed 12000 words.
Deadlines for proposals: July 15, 2014.
Other deadlines: October 31, 2014 (first draft of accepted manuscripts), February 11, 2015 (final version of manuscripts).
Articles will be published online as soon as the final manuscripts are accepted by the editors. The print version of the special issue will be published later in 2015.
Direct all questions and proposals to Marcelo Borges (borges@dickinson) or Sonia Cancian (email@example.com).
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