Friday, August 11, 2017

Kalamazoo 2018​
Monsters I: Immigration and Migration
Organizer: Asa Simon Mittman
What happens when the monster—the outsider, the “othered” figure from not-here—arrives, settles, or is already here? When the supposed monsters appear on the shore and move into the house next door? Medieval groups grappled with this concern on a regular basis, as demonized groups were often on the move from one region to another. Sometimes, the groups in question were seen as arriving from distant locales: Jews in England, Muslims in Italy, and both in Spain; Mongols in Eastern Europe. Recent arrivals were often demonized by locals who themselves were rarely indigenous peoples: invaders pushed native populations out beyond their borders and were in turn pushed back by waves of new invaders. Each successive wave of immigrants, once settled, found ways to dehumanize the previous inhabitants – often depicted as autochthonous giants – and the next wave, making monsters out of migrants. Immigrants were viewed with suspicion and derision from populations fraught with their own anxieties of identity. The medieval world marginalized migrants and immigrants – foreign populations and native – because of what they feared in themselves. Rulers prop up their authority and consolidate their power by building walls of rhetoric to protect their own cultural identity from perceived threats and incursions, but what are the costs to those on each side? What can we learn from medieval moments of immigration and migration? Can we identify both errors to be avoided and exemplars of inclusivity to be emulated?
We invite papers from all disciplines and national traditions. Additionally, MEARCSTAPA will provide an award of $500 to the best graduate student submission to this or any of its sessions to help offset the costs of travel and lodging for the ICMS.
Please send abstracts of no more than 250 words together with a completed Participant Information Form (available here: to session organizer Asa Simon Mittman ( by September 15. Please include your name, title, and affiliation on the abstract itself. All abstracts not accepted for the session will be forwarded to Congress administrators for consideration in general sessions, as per Congress regulations.

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