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CFP: The Middle East and North African Migration Studies in a Time of Crisis

2017 Conference

The Middle East and North African Migration Studies in a Time of Crisis

The Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies will host an international conference—titled The Stakes of Middle East and North Africa Migration Studies—at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA) on April 21 & 22, 2017.

This conference will consider the problematics of studying human movement to, from, and within the Middle East and North Africa in a time of mass displacement and multiple refugee “crises.” The region has long been defined by conflict and danger; conceived of as a place of flight and exile and expulsion, it has been imagined as the distorted obverse of a “Europe” or “America” imagined as spaces of refuge and safety. It is clear, then, that scholars working on Middle Eastern and North African migrations have much to contribute to discussions prompted by the wave of displacements the region is currently witnessing, from Syria and Iraq to Yemen and Libya.

The conference organizers welcome proposals along three axes. The first considers contemporary flows of refugees, displaced peoples and migrants, and the varying responses states and non-governmental organizations have developed to deal with these people in movement. The second, meanwhile, focuses on past patterns of Middle Eastern and North African movement (forced or voluntary), and the ways in which examining these may aid our understanding of the current moment. Conversely, the last of these axes concentrates on the ways in which the crisis in movement we are currently witnessing may pose new questions and methodological and theoretical challenges for scholars interested in movement, compelling us to revise our understanding of Middle Eastern and North African migrations and to refashion the tools we use to examine these flows.

The conference seeks to adopt an explicitly multi-disciplinary approach, and we therefore encourage proposals from scholars in history, anthropology, sociology, and geography, cultural and postcolonial studies and comparative literature as well as those in migration studies and area studies who seek to interrogate and reconsider the boundaries between different regions – the Middle East and North Africa, Europe, North and South America, etc. – and categories of moving people – migrants, refugees, displaced people –

Proposals may address the following questions:

  • Is our present-day moment shifting the historical and conceptual boundaries between “refugee studies” and “migration studies?”
  • How is the present-day “refugee crisis” redrawing the lines between so-called world areas and the institutionalized study of them?
  • How have communities in and from the Middle East and North Africa responded to protracted and repeated forced displacement?
  • How have refugees in, across and from the Middle East and North Africa prompted the construction of new exclusionary discourses and the recasting of older Orientalist tropes?
  • In a region where displacement is characterized as “endemic,” how have categories of citizen and foreigner, host and refugee, home and exile, emplacement and displacement been reconfigured and reimagined?
  • Are the humanities – themselves often characterized as plagued by a sense of “crisis – equipped to cope with the current “humanitarian crisis”?
  • To what extent has displacement been a tool of state building, or a consequence of state collapse? What has been the relationship between displacement, war, and underdevelopment?
  • What are the historical and conceptual tensions between social sciences and social work, especially in view of the resettlement of refugees and the recruitment of researchers in the process?

Please send paper proposals in MS Word or PDF format via email to the organizers at the following address: akhater@ncsu.edu. Proposals should have a title and abstract of no more than 300 words, and should include contact information and institutional affiliation.

We welcome proposals from graduate students, early-career researchers as well as established scholars.

The Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies will provide financial support to help fund travel. In addition, the Center will provide accommodation and meals. Some papers will be selected for subsequent publication in Mashriq & Mahjar: Journal of Middle East Migration Studies.

The deadline for receipt of paper proposals is Friday July 1, 2016. Successful applicants will be informed by Friday, September 2, 2016.


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