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Call for Papers - People & Things on the Move: Migration and Material Culture

Conference venue: Chicago, USA
Period: May 13-15, 2015
Deadline for submitting abstracts: June 15, 2014



We seek papers for a workshop to be held May 13-15, 2015 dedicated to exploring the relationship between migration and material culture in the modern world (the 18th century to the present), sponsored by the University of Chicago’s Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. We welcome paper proposals from both academics (including advanced graduate students) and practitioners—historians, anthropologists, archaeologists, public historians, librarians, archivists, and museum curators—who are working on the intersection between migration and material culture in any region of the world. We hope that selected papers will be published as a special issue or forum for the American Historical Review.

Both migration and material culture have profoundly shaped socie ties and cultures across the globe in the modern era.  This workshop will define migration broadly, to include intra-state, international and intra-imperial migration, as well as "forced" and "voluntary” migrations.  Our use of material culture is also inclusive, embracing the objects that furnish domestic interiors, architecture, tools, books, toys, clothing, modes of transportation, musical instruments, dance, and even food. The precise relationships between migration and material culture have varied dramatically across time, space, and political and social context.  Our goal is to analyze and thereby be able to explain the diversity of these relationships and experiences.

Eligible topics

Possible questions that papers might address include:

These are only some of the potential topics that the workshop may address.
The three-day workshop will be held at the University of Chicago and will include both open sessions and working-sessions limited to the participants.  We will also be visiting one or more museum/gallery/installation in the Chicago area.  We particularly encourage proposals that engage the public history/historical sites of the city. 

Guidelines for submission

Interested participants should send a 500 word abstract, an article or chapter (ms. or published on a related topic) and C.V. to and by June 15, 2014.

Please note that we will require participants to:

We ask that you both refrain from submitting proposals for work already published or committed elsewhere and that you agree to publish in the AHR forum should your paper be selected and the forum accepted by the journal
Travel and lodging will be covered.

Leora Auslander
is Professor of Modern European Social History at the University of Chicago, where she is also a member of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for the Study of Sexuality and Gender.  She works on the Atlantic world, Jewish and European history with a focus on material culture, identity-construction, and politics. She is the author of Taste and Power: Furnishing Modern France (California, 1996) and Cultural Revolutions: Everyday Life and Politics in Britain, North America and France (Berg, 2008/California, 2009).  She is currently working three books: Paradoxes of Citizenship, on home and nation-making in interwar Paris and Berlin, with a particular focus on Jews; another entitled Commemorating Death, Obscuring Life? The Conundrums of Memorialization; and, Race and Racism in the Atlantic World (with Tom Holt).

Tara Zahra is Professor of East European History at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the transnational history of modern Europe; migration; nationalism; humanitarianism, and the history of the family. She is the author of Kidnapped Souls: National Indifference and the Battle for Children in the Bohemian Lands, 1900-1948 (Cornell, 2008) and The Lost Children: Reconstructing Europe’s Families after World War II (Harvard, 2011). She is currently working on a history of emigration from East Central Europe to the “West” from 1889 to the present, tentatively entitled The Unsettled East: Emigration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the “Free World."


Information & contacts

Leora Auslander
University of Chicago

Tara Zahra
University of Chicago

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