University of Vienna – Department of Economic and Social History
2-3 December 2021
From a historical perspective, spatial mobility was/is part of daily practices. When people moved, they often did so because of better opportunities somewhere else; they repeatedly migrated due to economic circumstances, for cultural and individual reasons (e.g., lifestyle migration, educational migration), or in reaction to political emergencies, as a result of persecution, physical violence, or other kinds of repression. People were (and are) mobile in more complex ways than the once in a lifetime move from one social and cultural context to another. Their movements include ongoing, circular, or return migrations. Moreover, migration cannot be reduced to cross-border movements. A more flexible definition of migration is needed that does not overlook the relevance of permanent or semipermanent changes of residence. Its scope cannot be limited to movements over long distances or across state borders.
Permanent changes of residence are a worthy object of analysis but so are short-term stays, recurrent patterns of seasonal and circular mobility, and the practices of being constantly on the move of vagrants and traveling people. Even sedentariness does not constitute a clear-cut opposite to migration. The life course of many people includes at different times mobility as well as sedentariness – and many practices that lie somewhere in between.
The conference will therefore make an effort to capture the multidimensionality and the blurred/contested boundaries of migration, mobility, and sedentariness. Our conference will raise the question if and how a stronger reflection about space and the spatial dimensions of migration/mobility can contribute to de-nationalize, de-‘ethnicize’ and de-‘migranticize’ migration research.
We invite presentations to address the following topics and questions:
- How are spaces and places conceptualized in migration research? How can the tension between administrative container spaces and relational social spaces be grasped analytically and empirically? In which ways do such conceptual clarifications contribute to the quest for a more reflexive migration research?
- The complexities of migrations/spatial mobilities challenge a notion of migration that is based on a spatially fixed perspective, e.g., a linear logic of emigration and immigration. What can we learn if we follow journeys and trajectories of migrants instead of focusing on one single relocation? What can we learn by merging possible entanglements of internal and international movements? What can we learn from researching sending, transit, and arrival areas that have so far been neglected by research (e.g., rural areas)?
- Processes of migration and inclusion/exclusion unfold on multiple scales (local, regional, national, imperial, supra-national, global). Which research strategies are best suited to address territorial specific contexts? What do we learn from researching migration/mobility, embeddedness and belonging on different spatial scales? In which ways did migrants themselves transform places and produce spaces on various scales? How were/are borders administered and constructed on various scales (e.g., externalization and internalization of border practices)? How influential were/are spatial classifications (here, there, distant, close) in boundary making practices?
This conference will take place on 2–3 December 2021 in Vienna. The working language will be English. Please send a short biographical statement and an abstract of up to 250 words to email@example.com by 30 April, 2021. Decisions on the conference program will be made within two weeks of the deadline.
This will be the first conference of what is planned as a series of three conferences under the title: (Researching) Migration: On New Paths, in Each Direction? The 2nd and 3rd conferences will discuss time/temporality and categories/classification respectively.
• University of Vienna: Annemarie Steidl (Department of Economic and Social History)
• first Research Network for Interdisciplinary Regional Studies: Oliver Kühschelm (zhmf – IGLR), Anne Unterwurzacher (IAI)
• Slovenian Migration Institute at the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts: Mirjam Milharčič Hladnik, Aleksej Kalc