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CfP: Renaissance Displacements: Migrants and Truth Production, 1400–1700

Thursday, January 12, 2017   (0 Comments)

Princeton University Center for Renaissance and Medieval Studies Graduate Conference

Renaissance Displacements: Migrants and Truth Production, 1400–1700

Friday May 5th 2017

Keynote by Christopher Wood (NYU)

The history of the Renaissance could be considered a history of migration. Between the late Middle Ages and the early Enlightenment, migrants traveled across and beyond Europe in search of economic benefit, religious freedom, and political stability. When the earliest settlers of the New England colonies left Europe they sacrificed comfort in pursuit of cultural possibility. The migration of marginalized communities such as English Catholics, Quakers, Pietists, Mennonites, and Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews enabled new political, religious and cultural projects, even as they were caused by, and led to, economic change. Amsterdam, for example, sponsored merchant shipping and colonial ventures that attracted Germans, Danes, Norwegians, and rural Hollanders. Many more people moved involuntarily: throughout the early modern period, European states transported indentured servants and slaves to their colonies whose labor transformed the global economy. These migrations created the conditions of cultural modernity.

Renaissance Displacements: Migrants and Truth Production, 1400–1700 asks students of the early modern period to consider its intellectual and cultural products in relation to histories and theories of migration, taking migrants to mean books, images and concepts, as well as their bearers. The difficult figure of the migrant should challenge the methods and stakes of historical and theoretical research, which are products of migration themselves. To consider the truth production of migrants, it may be necessary to move beyond both the biography of individuals and the genealogy of concepts. As Hubert Damisch, for example, says of his innovative practice of intellectual history: "I am not a philosopher: I do not invent concepts, but I try to displace them." Displacement, the operation by which an individual is defined by its context, promises insight into the history of displaced peoples and the intellectual productions of Western modernity. This conference proposes to examine how knowledge is transformed when individuals become foreign.

This one-day conference will include three panels of graduate student and faculty speakers. We invite papers (of 15–20 minutes) from graduate students working in the areas of social, cultural, intellectual, literary and art history, on a broad variety of subjects, including:

  • Representations of the nation, the race, the market, the border
  • Affect and emotions, i.e. frustration, listlessness, saudade
  • Travel narratives, maps, atlases, charts
  • Capitalism, colonialism, slavery
  • Networks of commerce and correspondence
  • The translation of ancient and modern philosophical texts
  • Rhetorical figures of motion: including metaphor, metonymy, metalepsis
  • Institutions of refuge, sanctuary, security
  • Religious and political exile; utopian projects
For more information please contact Matt Rickard ( and Orlando Reade ( Abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent to by February 15.


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