Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs
7th Annual International and Interdisciplinary Conference
Migration, Displacement, and Belonging: Challenging the Paradigms
March 7-9, 2019

This conference will explore how migratory flows construct, reshape, and challenge the way individuals think about themselves and the communities to which they belong. When people experience insecurity or lack opportunities where they live, they search for a better life. Political, economic, or environmental hardships due to war, persecution, hostile environments, or poverty lead many to cross geographical and social boundaries, often at risk to their lives. Yet, whether migration is forced or voluntary, the journey to a new destination can be fraught with danger or new insecurities.

The complicated dynamics of migration critically highlights the fluidity of boundaries. Instead of privileging the nation state as the key site of identity formation, we ask, how does belonging to multiple worlds and localities influence how individuals conceive of themselves and the communities to which they belong? How do stories of displacement and belonging affect an individual’s ability and desire to integrate into their host societies? What does home mean to individuals and communities with deep and complicated migratory histories?

Panels will interrogate the complicated contexts of reception by looking at the interaction between migration policies, laws, cultural production, and practices developed at local, regional, national, and international levels around the globe. Who decides who gets to belong economically, socially, or culturally? What are the markers of membership (land, religion, culture and values, or language), and who defines and determines their parameters? What forms of backlash emerge from host societies that view new and old migrants as “others” who threaten nativist identities and values? How does this resistance to newcomers reflect past and current efforts of empire building? Migratory flows also raise important questions about choice and motivation: Despite hardships or uncertainties, why do some people move while others stay behind?

Papers will explore these issues by challenging existing approaches (e.g., push-pull binaries, nation state analyses) situated in the field of migration studies. Tentative conference themes  include the following:

  • Migration and changing/fluid borders
  • Multiple longings and belongings
  • Transformation and assimilation
  • Shifting boundaries of race, ethnicity, and gender among migrants
  • Exiles, refugees, and the right of return
  • Migration and minority politics or inter-relationships among migrant groups
  • Migration and cultural production: specifically, migrants’ narratives about displacement and belonging.