Call for Papers: "Middle East Migration Studies: Taking Stock, Plotting New Paths" Workshop


Call for Papers: "Middle East Migration Studies: Taking Stock, Plotting New Paths" Workshop
May 16–18, 2024
Khayrallah Center, North Carolina State University

Ten years ago, Mashriq & Mahjar’s first editorial began with a provocation to rethink the “markedly staid notions of space and place” that predominated in Middle East studies. Our field, the editorial argued, remained hamstrung by “a vision of the world as an aggregate of discrete bundles of land and people, hermetic units sealed off from one another and defined by their particularities” that echoed the geographic commitments of colonial and nationalist discourses. Such a vision foreclosed full consideration of the Middle East’s moving people—migrants, but also displaced persons, refugees, and nomads—whose histories remained hidden, obscured by a lack of scholarly interest in “migration and the worlds that migrants make.”

A decade on, migration, borderlands, and refugee studies now represent mainstays of Middle Eastern/North African (MENA) studies, radically reshaping the field’s contours. If some scholars are driven by a desire to make sense of the complex effects of contemporary forced displacements in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and elsewhere, others seek to understand past moments of mass movement that reshaped the demographics, political economy, and cultural history of the Levant, North Africa, and the Gulf. And as the field of MENA migration studies grows, historians, anthropologists, sociologists, and scholars in literary and cultural studies have striven to shed old tropes and ask new questions. Critiques of push/pull functionalism, respectability stereotypes, and the hazards of state-centrism represent just a few of the new plot points of this emerging theoretical terrain.

This workshop seeks to take stock of these exciting developments and to consider their potential for the larger, interdisciplinary field of MENA studies, but also to begin to clear paths as yet untaken. We seek papers that offer critical reflection on the core debates and methodologies of MENA migration studies, that sketch out new agendas, and that open up new avenues for research.

We welcome proposals that engage the field through one or more of the following themes:

  • Critical perspectives on race and migration
  • Critical perspectives on gender and migration
  • Migrant labor and its histories and presents: class, capitalism, and political economy
  • Migrants, refugees, and the state: law, policy, and border controls
  • Critical cartographies and mapping of movement
  • Borderlands and migration in the MENA and beyond
  • Queering migration studies
  • Interior lives, emotions and migration
  • Subaltern archives, informal archives, archival absences, and counter-archival politics

The workshop will be held May 16–18, 2024 at the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. The organizers will cover all the costs of housing and meals for participants during the conference, and provide some support toward travel. Selected papers will be solicited for a multi-author collection that will offer a critical introduction to MENA migration studies of relevance not just to scholars but also to those engaged in study of mobility, forced displacement, borderlands, and transnational and global connections. We welcome applications from scholars at all stages of their career in history, anthropology, sociology, geography, literary studies, and other disciplines. We particularly welcome proposals from early-career applicants and scholars working in the Global South. 


To be considered for this workshop and subsequent volume, we ask that interested authors submit a 300-word abstract via Mashriq & Mahjar’s submission portal. Authors may wish to consult the journal’s guidelines for writing effective abstracts. Abstract submissions are due October 15, 2023.

Authors of selected abstracts will be invited to submit papers of 5,000-6,000 words by March 31, 2024.

Questions may be directed to the journal’s managing editor at