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Donna Gabaccia (U Toronto, Canada)

Migration and the Scale and Temporality of Space: Some Examples from History

SFB Colloquium | Tuesday, 10 May 2016  | 05:15 pm
Date: Tuesday, 10 May 2016  | 05:15 pm - 06:45 pm
Location: GWZO | Specks Hof, Entrance A, 4th Floor | Reichsstraße 4–6 | 04109 Leipzig
Organization: Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199: “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition” (Germany)
Centre for Area Studies (U Leipzig, Germany)
Centre for the History and Culture of East Central Europe (at U Leipzig, Germany)
Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (Leipzig, Germany)
Language: English

Summary:
Donna Gabaccia, professor of history at the University of Toronto, examines in her talk the construction of households, neighborhoods and communities, and diasporic, transnational networks by migrants from Italy, based on her research on the long history of Italy’s global migrations. While migrants do on occasion construct spaces that persist over decades and centuries, the fluidity of mobility and diasporic life often result in migrant spaces of limited temporality and become easily invisible in historical archives.


Abstract:
Mobile humans construct meaningful spaces across a wide variety of scales, from the domestic and locally situated through national and international geographies. These spaces may at times overlap with official state-based spatial constructions at the local, regional, national and international scale. Just as often, however, the spaces constructed by migrants exist in uneasy and contested relations to official, state-defined and –regulated spaces. The histories and outcomes of these contestations are to some degree determined by the different temporalities of the spaces that states and migrants create. Using examples drawn largely from my research on the long history of Italy’s global migrations, this paper examines the construction of households, neighborhoods and communities, and diasporic, transnational networks by migrants from Italy. While migrants do on occasion construct spaces that persist over decades and centuries, the fluidity of mobility and diasporic life and the frequent interventions by states to limit and to contain the space-making initiatives of migrants more often result in migrant spaces of limited temporality. Such spaces easily become invisible in historical archives.

Biographical Note:
Donna Gabaccia is professor of history at the University of Toronto and past director of the Immigration History Research Center at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of many books and articles on immigrant class, gender and food studies in the United States, on Italian migration around the world, and on migration in world history. Her 2015 book Gender and International Migration was co-authored with sociologist and demographer Katharine Donate. Her book Foreign Relations, won the 2012 Theodore Saloutos Prize of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society. She is the past president of the Social Science History Association. Her work in public history earned her the 2013 University of Minnesota Outstanding Community Service Award for Faculty and the 2012 Society of American Archivists, Hamer-Kegan Award for the Immigration History Research Center Project, “Digitizing Immigrant Letters.”