We're all Migrants: What Now? Borders and Indigeneity in the Early Middle Ages and Today

Kathryn Maude, American University in Beirut
D. Esther Kim, University of Toronto

Recent events and reactions in the political and academic spheres have highlighted how artefacts of the medieval can be used to build narratives of, on the one hand, itinerancy and migration, and, on the other, indigeneity and inherent national identities. This session will consider the ways in which concepts of early medieval are used in the contemporary imaginary to either solidify or soften borders of nations, indigeneity, and identities.

We invite researchers, teachers, writers, curators, and artists from any disciplinary perspective and at all stages of their careers to join the conversation. At this stage we are asking for a short expression of interest, description of your practice, and what you would like to add to the conversation. Please send to Kathryn Maude (km55@aub.edu.lb) and D. Esther Kim (de.kim@mail.utoronto.ca) by June 30th 2018.

This workshop builds on the recent efforts in medieval studies to reckon with postcolonial criticisms of medieval studies, and the efforts to decolonize our research and teaching. We also hope to establish a network of postgraduate students, researchers, administrators, and accomplished professors who can support and hold each other accountable in our practice.

Leading up to the workshop, eight to ten participants will pre-circulate their own 2-page position papers; these papers will outline new research, creative, and teaching methodologies with examples drawn from their own area and discipline of research and interests, whether primary sources, recent historiography or political events.

Topics might include, but are not limited to:

  • Concepts of indigeneity, idealized or real
  • Representations of migrant experiences and modern migration discourses
  • Use of medieval tropes of race/indigeneity by political (sub)groups
  • De/colonizing nature, landscape, and ecology
  • Colonizations of the Americas and Australia and medievalisms
  • DNA and the medieval; colonial science; biological narratives of race through DNA science
  • Presentation of medieval heritage, race, indigeneity, and archaeology in museums

We will also circulate short theoretical articles on race and indigeneity. The articles will be selected after the call for participants, and will be tailored to the participants' areas of interest.

This preparation will culminate in two sessions at IONA, opening with introductory presentations (drawing from their position papers) from participants. In the second session, we hope to assemble a toolkit of methods and resources: ways to research, learn, teach, and create with careful attention to the way we refer to borders and indigeneity in our practice, and confront our habits of whiteness*.

* Young, Helen. Race and Popular Fantasy Literature: Habits of Whiteness (Routledge, 2016)