Lives in Transit: Subjectivity in the Age of Migration (NeMLA 2018)

deadline for submissions: 
September 30, 2017
full name / name of organization: 
Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA)
contact email: 

More than thirty years ago, Edward Said wrote in Reflections on Exile that “our indeed the age of the refugee, the displaced person, mass immigration.” As migration becomes increasingly recognized as integral to contemporary societies, how does transit become central to how we understand urban spaces, communities, and the experiences of individuals within them? We understand transit as the movement of people, ideas, memories, or emotions, and what Jodi Byrd has described as “liminal existence” in “ungrievable spaces.” In what ways does the concept of "transit" model a rethinking of the relationship between individuals and postcolonial geographies? How does mobility constitute movement through both physical and ontological space? How does transit refute notions of integration and national borders and identities? This seminar aims to create a conversation around the following questions: What would it mean to position transit, rather than rootedness, as the normative mode of being in the world? And how might this repositioning recast those in perpetual transit – migrants, refugees, and exiles – as the embodiment of a new peripatetic subjectivity which supersedes older models of universal or national subjectivity?

We seek provocative interventions of 5-7 minutes which respond to these questions. Proposals might address these topics through literary, visual, historical, or social approaches. Additional themes may include affect, citizenship, displacement, exile, and urban geographies. Participants will circulate papers one month in advance in order to facilitate discussion during the seminar itself.

Please submit a 250 word abstract and brief bio directly through the NeMLA panel site. The conference will take place in Pittsburgh, April 12-15, 2018. This CFP and conference details can be found here:

Please note that you do NOT need to be a current NeMLA member to submit an abstract. Contact Ashna Ali (, Nasia Anam (, Alicia E. Ellis (, Eleanor Paynter (, and Simona Wright ( with any questions.