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Call for papers - Changing population: migration, reproduction and identity



Call for papers
(extended deadline: 20 February 2014)


Changing population: migration, reproduction and identity


University of Trento, June 3-5, 2014

The social sciences have long debated the use of racial, ethnic and national categories in analyzing processes of collective identity construction. Anthropology and Sociology have both contributed to uncovering the implicit essentialism underlying the racial and cultural definitions of difference conventionally used to identify, subdivide and classify human populations. At the same time, contemporary processes of social and cultural interconnection, fueled by intense global mobility, are challenging, bridging and overturning institutional boundaries of identity and belonging. National citizenship categories in particular have become increasingly limiting and constrictive in relation to the wide variety of reproductive practices individuals enact transnationally. Issues such as the family basis of migration, the fertility and birthrates of migrants and ethnic minorities, the rise in mixed marriages, the transnational spread of familial and kinship networks and the access to citizenship for “second-generations” are only the most visible signs of a deeply rooted change, which impacts the composition and shape of national populations and triggers new citizenship claims.

Faced with these processes, dominant demographic discourse has adopted ethno-racial classifications and slipped easily into a rhetoric of danger: the danger of invasion, extinction, poverty and cultural disintegration. Still lacking or underdeveloped is a primarily social analysis of the demographic developments at play that draws on socio-anthropological research in order to problematize the demographic construction of minorities, in opposition to national demography; and, at the same time, that explores how individuals and communities ensure their own biological, social and cultural continuity despite and across ethno-national boundaries.     
This conference aims to establish a space for international and interdisciplinary dialogue on contemporary socio-demographic shifts. We propose to focus in particular on the biopolitics of reproduction put in motion by both national governments, as they distinguish between citizens and non-citizens, and migrants and their descendents, as they affirm, negotiate or refrain from constructing their own definitions of family, kinship, genealogy and belonging.

In this perspective, which primarily addresses the intersection of reproduction and identity in relation to migrants and multicultural contexts, we invite papers exploring the following issues:

- The analytical categories and classifications employed in research on population, namely ethnicity, race, nation, culture and group;
- Demographic politics and systems for defining national populations;
- Family reunification and the ethno-national bases of welfare systems;
- The marriage practices, reproductive behavior and social genealogies of migrants and their descendents;
- Family planning policies and fertility management among migrants and minorities;
- Notions of identity and continuity in transnational migration.

The conference is organised by the SMMS Research Unit (Migration Scenarios and Social Change), Department of Sociology and Social Research, University of Trento.

Confirmed keynote speakers include David Kertzer and Pnina Werbner.

Abstracts (300 words), containing a description of the main argument, the key question(s) driving the paper and the kind of evidence analysed, should be sent by 20th February 2014 to the following address:


For further information please contact the conference coordinators, Francesca Decimo [francesca.decimo@unitn.it] Alessandra Gribaldo [alegribaldo@women.it] and Paolo Boccagni [paolo.boccagni@unitn.it].


Acceptance will be notified by the end of Febraury 2014. Full papers (5-8.000 words) are expected by 30th April 2014.