CFP: Travelling Towards Home: mobilities and home making

OAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies/MA in Travel and Tourism, Department of Anthropology

Call for Papers

Travelling Towards Home: mobilities and home making

A 2 day conference proposed by the SOAS Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies and the Masters degree in Travel and Tourism.

23-24 June 2011

This conference aims to stimulate the use of notions of home and home making as ethnographic and theoretical lenses through which to view aspects of the relation between global migrations (of all kinds, including tourism) and trans-national identities.

Substantial areas of contemporary social science, particularly anthropology, reflect a world shaped by migrants, tourists, and others who are increasingly crossing state, national, and other borders, who are living at the intersections of the local, national, and global, and thus who are also setting up trans-national homes. This is one of the contexts in which Rapport and Overing (2007) identify home as a ‘key concept’ in social anthropology central to questions of identity.  They argue that, given a world shaped by migration and mobilities, both concepts (home and identity) need defining in a way that “transcends traditional definitions in terms of locality, ethnicity, religiosity, and/or nationality and are sensitive to allocations of identity which may be multiple, situational, individual, and paradoxical” (176).

Throughout the 1990s and 2000s there has been a consistent stream of writings  on the theme of the relation between mobility and the idea of home which have moved beyond traditional anthropological boundaries: Mack (1991) and Bammer (1992) on the theoretical possibilities of the term home in a globally mobile world, Robertson’s (1994) collection of travellers’ tales about displacement and loss of home, Kain (1997) and Kheter (2001) on leaving home in South Asia and Lebanon respectively, Levitt and Waters (2002) on how migration has challenged traditional meanings of home, Long and Oxfield (2004) on refugees and ideas of home, Walters (2005) on home and diasporas in black writing, and others. However, Aguilar’s (2002:24) contention that  “ubiquitous in the migration literature, ‘home’ and ‘family’ are words that appear self-evident but, on reflection, signal a domain of problematic assumptions, methodological complexities, and hegemonic discourses and ideologies .. magnified by processes of movement and displacement” still has considerable traction today.

This conference thus sets out to respond both to the considerable and growing general interest in the relation between mobilities and ideas of home but also to the uneven and arguably thin engagement with the field within the social sciences. We thus invite contributions to the topic that would help generate a research framework capable of grasping the theoretical and analytical possibilities that the relation between home and mobility promises.

Aguilar, FV, 2002 At Home in the World? Filipinos in global migrations, Philippine Migration Research Network.

Bammer, A. 1992, “Editorial”, New Formations: Journal of Culture/Theory/Practice (Issue on “The Question of Home”), 2:2.

Kain, G. (ed) 1997, Ideas of Home: Literature of Asian migration, East Lansing: Michigan State University Press.

Khater, AF. 2001, Inventing Home: Emigration, gender, and the middle class in Lebanon 1970-1920, Berkeley, University of California Press.

Levitt, P. and MC Waters, 2002, The Changing Face of Home, New York, Russell Sage.

Long, LD and E. Oxfeld (eds), 2004, Coming Home: Refugees, migrants, and those who stayed behind, Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press.

Mack, A. (ed) 1991, Home: A place in the world, (Special Edition of Social Research, 58:1.

Rapport, N. and J.Overing, 2007, Social and Cultural Anthropology: The key concepts, London, Routledge.

Robertson, G. et al (eds) 1994, Travellers’ Tales: Narratives of home and displacement, London: Routledge.

Walters, W. 2005, At Home in Diaspora: Black International Writing, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

We welcome proposals from across the social sciences.

Proposals should be no more than 250 words and sent to Tom Selwyn (ts14@soas.ac.uk) and Parvathi Raman (pr1@soas.ac.uk) by January 15th.


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