MESAAS Graduate Student Conference 2022: Borders and Boundaries [24–25 March 2022]

deadline for submissions: 
February 7, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University

The Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies (MESAAS) at Columbia University is pleased to announce its annual Graduate Student Conference to be held on 24–25 March 2022. This conference is a space for graduate students to present their original work in a welcoming and stimulating environment.

Our theme this year interrogates borders and boundaries: exploring what these formations mean, how they come to be fixed and changed, what they engender and obfuscate. How do we, in the humanities and social sciences, interact with these categories, in order to question what—as well as who—lies within, outside, across, and along these fields of inquiry? Through the papers and discussions at this year's conference, we hope to complicate the naturalization of borders and boundaries and the concepts and methodologies that engage with them. How are these physical and abstract configurations simultaneously maintained, ignored, challenged, and manipulated as they delineate, inform, and constrict?

We welcome a wide range of submissions that speak to our general theme and encourage (but do not seek to limit) interpretations of borders and boundaries within the following frames of thought:

  • Territorial (mapped boundaries, partition, disputed territories, state borders, mobility)
  • Regional ("area" studies, transregionality, oceanic thought, migration)
  • Political (the nation-state, constitutionality, federalism, institutions, center and periphery, governance and administration, international/diplomatic relations, citizenship)
  • Legal (jurisdiction, immigration and refugee law, criminality, carcerality, legal traditions)
  • Textual (intertextuality, genre, form, narrative, literariness, language traditions, orality, translation)
  • Media (transmedia, media ecology, media convergence, formal-informal media practices, circulation, media economy)
  • Gender and Sexuality (body, performance/performativity, trans and intersex identity, sexual boundaries, queerness)
  • Identity (race, religion, ethnicity, caste, diaspora, self)
  • Temporal (history, historiography, periodization, progress)
  • Spatial (rurality, urbanity, urbanism, architecture, design, built environment, political and human geography)
  • Epistemic (knowledge frameworks, institutions of power, Nature/Society, colonialism, decoloniality)
  • Ontological (materialism, ways of living, embodiment, personhood)

Our conference will predominantly be held on Zoom. We invite graduate students from across the world to submit a 350–400 word abstract for a twenty-minute presentation along with a 100-word bio via this form:  by Monday, 7 February 2022. Notification of paper acceptance will be sent by the end of February. You can keep updated on the conference via Twitter: For any questions or inquiries, please contact

We look forward to welcoming you to the conference.

—MESAAS Graduate Student Conference 2022 Organizing Committee