Circular chart in rainbow colors showing migrations patterns across various parts of the world.

Circular plot of migration flows between and within world regions during 2005 to 2010; Science, Vol 343, Issue 6178, pp. 1520-1522, by Guy J. Abel and Nikola Sander. Copyright 2014 by AAAS. Reprinted with permission of AAAS.

Melting Bowl or Salad Pot?: Identity Dynamics of Migrants to State/Imperial Heartlands Through the Ages

Conference organized by David Danzig (ISAW)

Human migration is and has always been an important component of settled life, impacting all sectors of society. Migration often occurs in the context of the exercise of power by large states and empires. While scholars of migration and ethnicity tend to focus on identity dynamics at the peripheries of such polities, the impact of migration on central heartland regions is potentially more ripe for exploration. Though expansionist actions directly impact borderlands, the resultant flow of migrants to heartlands creates an inter-ethnic hotbed. This phenomenon is problematized in the title of this conference via an intentional play on the terms "melting pot" and "salad bowl." First used to describe social identity dynamics of migrants to the United States of America, the mixing of these metaphors accentuates the multiplicity of possible developments of identity that arise after immigration to the heartlands of powerful polities. Instead of insisting on a binary approach, this conference brings together expert scholars from multiple fields to explore the dynamics of ethnic identity in state and imperial heartlands in a variety of ancient, pre-modern, modern, and contemporary contexts, in order to investigate the gamut of historical and social developments that result from such migrations.


9:00am: Introductory Remarks

Session I: Antipasto – Nations and Immigrant Minorities Today
Chair, Roderick Campbell (ISAW)

9:15am: National Community and Specific Identification – Modernity in East Asia
Naoki Sakai (Cornell University)

9:55am: The Rise of Mixed Families in the 21st Century US and Its Consequences for Ethnoracial Categories
Richard Alba (CUNY Graduate Center)

10:35am: Coffee Break

Session II: Rising Cream - When Immigrants Become Rulers
Chair, Roderick Campbell (ISAW)

11:05am: Migrant Identity and Empires in the Longue Durée: Some Kassite, Abbasid, and Ottoman Cases
Nathanael Shelley (Barnard College, Columbia University)

11:45am: Constructing the Identity of the "Elite" Shatuo Turks during the Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms Period China (907-960 AD)
Soojung Han (Princeton University)

12:25pm: Lunch Break

Session III: Salad Ingredients – Case Studies of Immigrant Identity Dynamics
Chair: Elizabeth Knott (ISAW)

1:30pm: Salonica's Transition from Empire to Nation-State
Harris Mylonas (George Washington University)

2:10pm: Lives and Identities of Egyptian Migrants to Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid Babylonia
David Danzig (ISAW)

2:50pm: Acculturation and Absence: Where are Attica's Associations of Italians and Romans?
Sailakshmi Ramgopal (Columbia University)

3:30pm: Coffee Break

Session IV: Stewing – Ethnicities in Contact and their Cultural Representation
Chair: Elizabeth Knott (ISAW)

4:00pm: Immigration, Emigration and the Accommodation of Ethnicity in the Post-Roman Latin West
Helmut Reimitz (Princeton University)

4:40pm: On Identity and Style in the Funerary Art of Central Asians in Sixth- and Seventh-Century China
Judith A. Lerner (ISAW)

5:20pm: Concluding Remarks

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