Corporeal Restrictions, Embodied Freedoms: Italian Interventions on the Body, conference in NYC, April 2018


Migration, Institutions, and Intimate Lives: New agendas in the history of migration and gender

Edited by Manuela Martini (Université Lyon 2) and Sumita Mukherjee (University of Bristol)

Gender & History calls for article abstracts for a special issue on ‘Migration, Institutions, and Intimate Lives’. The issue of migration has spread in social sciences since the seventies and has been gendered quite quickly thanks to pioneering works. Historians have played a crucial role in the field as well as sociologists and anthropologists. Forty years later, it is clear that the ‘gender turn’ in migration history has lifted women from the backroom to the centre stage of short- and long-distance migrations, and elicited new approaches. New theoretical and methodological views of gendered paths in migration have challenged the classical view of migration as emancipation, insisting on the importance of care and domestic roles in migration.

In combination with the ‘gender turn’, the recent transnational turn in history has opened new research agendas to the study of migration and mobility. At its heart, the history of migration and mobility has always been interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary, whether engaging with the literature of travel narratives, the sociology and philosophy of terms like diaspora and migration, and/or the geography of mobility and exchange. Here too, gender construction, representation, and identity have informed much of the writing and debates on these topics, which have engaged across historical disciplines of social, cultural, economic, religious, political and environmental history.

A flourishing field of studies on international migration regimes and global migrant institutions has developed in relation with the transnational turn. The issue of migration policies and institutional infrastructures currently engages politicians and media agencies, but it is a theme that has long interested historians of all periods. Indeed, one of the main topics in histories of migrations has been the study of institutional frames and their evolutions. While some of these works have recently demonstrated awareness of the importance of the intimate life of migrants, it is rarer to find studies which consider how states and their institutions, legislations and policies affected everyday life and migrants’ experiences at local, regional, national, transnational and global levels.

In bringing together this special issue (and associated symposium), we would like to explore the history of migrants through a gendered lens in a number of ways. We would like to consider

• • the range of approaches to the history of migration that have engaged with state (or other levels of government) policies and institutions, including the social, cultural and economic ones
• • local and internal migration, and the public administration of migrants’ private lives.

• • the intermediaries – the brokers of migration and gender: the go-betweens, the institutions, charities, NGOs, state institutions, associations, merchants, and ship-owners, who facilitate (or prohibit) migration
• • notions of association, familiarity and intimacy, for example, papers that engage with themes such as marriage, families (including transnational families), long-distance motherhood and fatherhood, sex and sexuality, both in the sending and the receiving areas.
• • the adaptation of heritage and community practices.

We would also like to take stock of the range of approaches to the history of migration that have dealt with gender, and reflect upon the methodology that informs this work, especially as related to intimacy. Thus, we invite papers that

• • engage with the definitions, terminology and lexicon on migrants in historical perspective
• • engage with the themes of local, transnational and global history
• • reflect on the sources such as travel writing; material history; literature; economic data; oral history
• • consider the class and gendered aspects of migrant communities
• • discuss differences in migrations paths and the intermediaries of migration
• • that consider the issues of conflict, cohesion and multiculturalism; among others.

We welcome proposals that present ethnic, local, regional, national, transnational and global approaches, as well as those that address gender intersectionally in connection with other categories of difference and power including but not limited to race, gender identity, class, sexuality, religion, ethnicity and ability. As Gender & History is a journal that publishes articles across time and space, we welcome proposals that consider migration in all eras, from antiquity, to the early modern, to the contemporary.

We encourage both historical and interdisciplinary approaches.

We have offered an extensive list of potential approaches in the hopes that prospective contributors will find these examples generative. Despite its length, the bullet points above are far from exhaustive; papers that address questions not listed here but relevant to the theme of this special issue are also very welcome.

Submission of Abstracts

The production of the special issue will follow a symposium, to be held at the University of Bristol, UK, on 13 and 14 April 2018 (dates subject to change), whose participants will be selected on the basis of the abstracts submitted. Please submit 1-2 page abstracts in English (500 words maximum) to by 30 September 2017, with ‘GENDER & MIGRATION’ in the subject line. (Limited funds for the translation of articles written in other languages might be available).

Invitations to present at the symposium will be issued in November 2017. (We will have limited funds to assist with travel funds for those who need them). Papers must be submitted for pre-circulation to the editors by 23 March 2018.

After the symposium the editors will select papers to be considered for publication, and revised versions of selected papers must be received by 1 September 2018 (word count tbc). Manuscripts will then immediately enter the peer-review process so that the editors can produce the issue by May 2019 for publication in November 2019.

2017-07-05 18:17 GMT+02:00 Joseph Sciorra :

Corporeal Restrictions, Embodied Freedoms: Italian Interventions on the Body

April 26–28, 2018

Queens College, City University of New York
25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor (between 5th and 6th Avenues), Manhattan

The 1935 song “Faccetta Nera,” a paean to the Fascist imperialist enterprise in Africa, addresses the “little black face” that is the anonymous Abyssinian woman, an object of Italian colonial desire. This jaunty march with its suggestive miscegenation proclaims a gendered liberation of African women with the line “our law is slavery of love” (la legge nostra è schiavitù d’amore). The song was made famous by tenor Carlo Buti and eventually became a stable of festa band repertoires among the diaspora. In contemporary Italy black women are routinely taunted and humiliated with this Fascist-era tune.

The song is but one example of the myriad ways in which the body figures in discourses and cultural productions concerning Italy’s histories and identities, within and well beyond the country’s geopolitical boundaries. This interdisciplinary conference recognizes the body in its literal, metaphorical, and hybrid constitutions as found in the modern nation-state of Italy, the larger Italian diaspora, and among former colonies. It builds on the array of seminal work on body politics mainly developed in women’s and gender studies—French feminist theories of jouissance, Donna Haraway’s cyborgs, Judith Butler’s gender trouble, post-colonial conceptions of subaltern racialized bodies, and contemporary trans theories—where corporeal imaginaries construct and reposition identity and agency. Italy and italianità, with its complex position within a Western hegemony—connected to colonialism, transnational migration, and larger discourses of power—is a particularly interesting locus for focusing a series of critical interventions around the body.


· The racialized body
· The gendered body
· Queering the body
· Intersectionality and body politics
· The loving body, e.g., sexuality, couplings
· Migration and bodies in movement
· The sick and healing body
· Disabilities
· The inanimate body, e.g., cadavers, sculpture, puppetry
· The sacred body, e.g., incorruptibles, relics
· Sports and the athletic body
· Bodylore
· The written, the drawn, and the filmed body
· The body adorned, e.g., clothing, hair, makeup, tattoos

The official language of the conference is English. All presentations are to last no longer than twenty minutes, including audio and visual illustrations. Thursday evening is dedicated to welcoming comments and reception; sessions and panels will take place all day Friday and Saturday.

NOTA BENE: There are no available funds for travel, accommodations, or meals. There is no conference registration fee. The conference does not make arrangements with local hotels, so participants are responsible for booking their own accommodations.



Abstracts for scholarly papers (up to 500 words, plus a note on technical requirements) and a brief, narrative biography should be emailed as attached documents by September 15, 2017, to, where other inquires may also be addressed. We encourage the submission of organized panels (of no more than three presenters). Submission for a panel must be made by a single individual on behalf of the group and must include all the paper titles, abstract narratives, and individual biographies and emails.



The John D. Calandra Italian American Institute, Queens College, is a university-wide research institute of the City University of New York, dedicated to the history and culture of Italians in the United States.

Joseph Sciorra, Ph.D.
Director, Academic and Cultural Programs
Editorial Director, Italian American Review
John D. Calandra Italian American Institute
Queens College, CUNY
25 West 43rd Street, 17th floor
New York, New York 10036
tel. (212) 642-2035