Homing and Hosting: Transnational Belonging across Italian Cultures

deadline for submissions: 
September 18, 2020
full name / name of organization: 
MLA International Symposium Glasgow 2021

Often conceived as a private, intimate space, the “home” is also host to a variety of social, political, and economic dynamics that bring questions of domesticity to merge and interact with broad, even abstract, concerns. Taking as its point of departure the recent critical analysis of “home” as “a matter of search...an open-ended and possibly unaccomplished process” (Boccagni 2017), this session will address how “homing,” “hosting,” and “Italianità” speak to issues of identities, mobilities, and negotiations. Parsing “home” as a place and “homing” as a practice, this panel will concentrate on three major themes: translations and transitions, communities and environments, and hybrid homes and hybrid hosts. Encounters between individuals and groups lie at the crossroads of these three topics; thus, a parallel focus will be on the importance of the “host” - from the translator to the facilitator - and this figure’s role in conveying, mediating, or potentially complicating forms of hospitality and belonging.

Since the thirteenth century, examples of “homing” and “hosting” across borders, oceans, and peoples have characterized diasporas of Italian cultures throughout the globe. Such cases indicate that the histories of cultural and physical mobilities shape - and are shaped by - the circulation of ideas and the transmission of knowledge, political and religious expansionism, capitalism and colonialism, globalism and communications, and humanitarian crises. The complex interactions among homes and hosts bring into relief the transhistorical and transnational variables that influence the construction and reconstruction of cultures within Italy and abroad.


Paper topics, drawn anywhere from the Middle Ages to today, could include:

Translations and Transitions

  • Appropriating, reading, and coding cultural contexts
  • Translatability and untranslatability
  • Migrations and mobilities
  • Contingency and precarity of the “home”

Communities and Environments

  • Urbanism and ruralism
  • Alterity, “foreignness,” and the ethics of belonging
  • Identity politics and gender studies
  • Nationalism, colonialism, and postcolonialism
  • Racism, xenophobia, and the “unhomely”

Hybrid Homes and Hybrid Hosts

  • Multilingualism and multiculturalism
  • Blended homes and families
  • Dual citizenship (real and imagined)
  • Travel literature and “contact zones”


Colleagues interested in presenting on this panel are invited to submit a paper proposal of 250 words and a short bio of 100 words to Elisa Russian (elisarussian@berkeley.edu) and Kate Driscoll (driscoll@zedat.fu-berlin.de) by Friday, September 18, 2020. More information about the MLA International Symposium is available at: https://symposium.mla.org/.