Fugitive Histories and Migrant Knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean

May 20, 2024 - May 21, 2024

Workshop at the University of California, Irvine | Conveners: Kevan Antonio Aguilar (University of California, Irvine), Amy Kerner (University of California, Berkeley & GHI Washington | Pacific Office), Fabio Santos (University of California, Berkeley & GHI Washington | Pacific Office), and Chelsea Schields (University of California, Irvine)

Call for Papers

In recent years, scholars of migration and exile have challenged standard integration and assimilation paradigms that (mis)represent migration as a one-way street. Postcolonial and decolonial approaches have opened fruitful conceptual and theoretical notions such as entangled (im)mobilities, migrant knowledge, connected histories and sociologies, and multidirectional memories, which together spotlight varied movements and influences beyond those of hegemonic groups. This workshop aims to bring together empirically rich contributions informed by these new approaches. Regionally focused on Latin America and the Caribbean, the workshop is inclusive of other spaces entangled with the region through histories of migration and mobility.

Latin America and the Caribbean constitute a world region closely intertwined with, and shaped by, the history of migration and (im)mobility. Major episodes have encompassed imperial and colonial settlements and displacements – including the forced transfer of millions of enslaved African-born people; population movements of the post-independence wars and state-building eras; mass migrations from Europe, Asia, and the Middle East to the region at the turn of the twentieth century; and, more recently, political and labor migrations within and out of the region during and after the Cold War.

Exceeding hegemonic archives and nationalist ideologies, “fugitive histories” refer to the lived histories of those who have fled but left few sources, as well as to new, polyphonic historiographies of migration and mobility. Examples include cartographic knowledge in the context of terrestrial and maritime marronage; Indigenous epistemologies resisting threats to decimation and assimilation; as well as subversive communication and political networks striving for social change, including struggles for abolitionist futures in (post-)slavery societies and for democratic futures in (post-)dictatorship societies, often spurred by exile groups. This workshop thus re-centers the fugitive knowledge – knowledge escaping the archive, or only elusively available within it – produced by mobile individuals and groups through their fleeting voices, testimonies, traces of mobility and immobility, solidarity networks, and multidirectional memory. 

We are calling for contributions that make sense of the fugitive forms of knowledge produced, transmitted, circulated, disrupted, lost, and retrieved by people on the move both past and present. Literally fugitive, the knowledge of marginalized and mobile groups can help overcome the epistemological limitations of conventional histories of migration and mobility. Questions we aim for the workshop to address include: How do histories of empire, colonialism, and authoritarianism continue to shape (im)mobilities into the present? Which groups of people have been marginalized by, left out of, or have resisted hegemonic narratives and scholarly debates? How can their fugitive knowledges be retrieved into an emerging, more inclusive theory and historiography of migration and mobility? Which insights do fugitive histories and migrant knowledge yield about shifting or persistent power relations and sociocultural (trans)formations in the spaces they crisscross and inhabit?

To discuss these and related questions, we invite an interdisciplinary and cross-generational group of scholars working on topics related to the theme. Applications from scholars in history, sociology, anthropology, archaeology, geography, and political sciences, as well as interdisciplinary fields, such as area studies, memory studies, migration and mobility studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, and gender studies, are most welcome.

Prior to the workshop, papers will be circulated to allow maximum time for all participants to prepare and engage in productive discussions. Please upload a brief CV (2-3 pages max.) and a proposal of no more than 600 words to our online portal by October 15, 2023. Proposals should indicate the contribution’s argument, methods, and sources, as well as its relevance to the workshop topic.

We plan to publish the papers in a special issue of a scholarly journal or in an edited volume with a well-regarded publisher.

Accommodations will be arranged and paid for by the conference organizers. Participants will make their own travel arrangements; funding subsidies for travel are available upon request.

Please contact Heike Friedman (friedman@ghi-dc.org) if you have problems submitting your information online. All other questions pertaining to the workshop and application process should be directed to Amy Kerner (amy_kerner@alumni.brown.edu) or Fabio Santos (fabio.santos@fu-berlin.de).