Urban Migration and Its Discontents: Place and Displacement in the City (NeMLA2020; Boston, 3/5-8/2020)
Cities, as entry points and destinations for migrants, have long been represented culturally as places of vibrant interaction, struggles for assimilation, housing and employment exclusion, and dangerous infiltration. For instance, the official city celebrations of the diverse immigrant populations who have shaped and re-shaped the cityscape can lead to cultural amnesia or ignorance of the conditions that created neighborhoods like New York’s Harlem, San Francisco’s Castro, or London’s Spitalfields. Treatments have been encyclopedic or concentrated: whereas John Dos Passos’s Manhattan Transfer attempted to capture the broad scope of New York development from the late 19th through early 20th centuries, Anzia Yezierska focused on the Jewish immigrant community of the Lower East Side in the early 20th century. More recently, writers such as China Mievelle’s The City and the City and Michael Cunningham’s Specimen Days have imagined overlapping cities, while Teju Cole’s Open City highlights our subjective experiences of urban space. In an atmosphere of increasingly hostile anti-immigration rhetoric in many Western countries, including the United States, this panel will explore the long history of urban migration and its discontents.
This panel seeks papers across a broad range of Anglophone literature that explore the ways in which migrant cultures—understood broadly to be national, ethnic, and cultural—shape and re-shape the city on the ground and in the cultural imagination.
250 word abstracts to email@example.com by 9/30/2019.