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Call for Papers: Migration, Diaspora, and Movement of Peoples

February 1, 2019

34th Annual Middle East History and Theory Conference

The University of Chicago

May 3-5, 2019

We invite proposals from graduate students, faculty, and independent scholars of the Middle East from roughly the first millennium BCE to the present day, whose research interests include but are not limited to: religious studies, history, geography, anthropology, political science, literature, linguistics, music, philosophy, art history, and media studies.

We encourage papers and pre-arranged panels related to the theme of this year’s conference: Migration, Diaspora, and Movement of Peoples. The theme is intentionally broad to accommodate for scholarship on a plethora of topics and time periods. Examples include: forced and voluntary movements, labor and economic phenomena, diasporic studies, human rights, and more.

Questions of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • How has the region changed, and/or how is it changing, as a result of migration flows to, within, and from?
  • What is the relationship between diaspora and identity formation?
  • What is the role of labor migration in the region’s political economy?
  • How do contemporary displacements differ from historical ones?
  • What were the narratives of migration under colonialism and what are their reverberations?
  • In what ways are systems of identity upheld or altered for the marginalized as a result of migration?
  • How have refugees and migrants (both forced and otherwise) used musical expression to respond to experiences of displacement and/or violence?
  • How are modes of mobility and sociality experienced and expressed both in and through migrants’ use of music, particularly in varying social, cultural, political, and historical contexts?
  • How do studies on music and migration add to our understandings of displacement, resistance, and diaspora in the Middle East and transnationally?

We are honored to welcome Dr. Akram Khater, who will be delivering the event’s keynote address. Dr. Khater is a Professor in the History Department at North Carolina State University,  Director of the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, editor of the International Journal of Middle East Studies, and author of Sources in the History of the Modern Middle East among others.

Additionally, for the first time, MEHAT will be partnering with the Department of Music to promote the work of ethnomusicologists who focus on the Middle East. Therefore, we will give special consideration to papers addressing music in the context of this year’s theme. To celebrate this collaboration, we will be having a second speaker: Dr. Ulrike Präger, Instructor/Lecturer in the Department of Music at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Dr. Präger, a native of Germany, conducts research that productively crosses boundaries between ethno/musicology and migration, diaspora, and memory studies.

Application. Please send submissions electronically to mehatconference@gmail.com, no later than Friday, February 1st, 2019 at 5pm CST. Please include each presenter’s name, institution, and position, and attach a 250-word abstract with a tentative title. For pre-arranged panels, please send a single email with an overall panel description plus individual paper abstracts. The best abstracts will summarize the paper’s topic, its relationship and contribution to existing scholarship and specific conclusions. Abstracts will be evaluated anonymously by the coordinators; therefore, please do not include names or any identifying information in the abstract.  If you are unsure about the suitability of your topic, feel free to reach out at the above address. Selection results will be announced by early March 2019. Suitable papers may be considered for publication.

Panels. Approximately 50 papers will be selected and grouped into panels of three or four. Special preference will be given to pre-arranged panels, although individual submissions are always welcome. Participants should be prepared to deliver a maximum twenty-minute presentation and respond to questions from conference attendees. Written papers must be circulated to the respondent and panel members at least two weeks before the conference. As in previous years, three of our sponsors will offer limited funding for panels in the following fields: (1) Modern Arabic Literature; (2) Central Eurasian Studies; and (3) South Asian Studies. Participants chosen for one of these panels may be eligible for a modest travel subsidy. Those interested should submit abstracts according to the process outlined above, with a note indicating their interest in a sponsored panel. Applicants not placed on a special panel will still receive full consideration.

For questions and accessibility concerns, please write to mehatconference@gmail.com.


University of Chicago
Chicago, IL