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.

Preliminary list of speakers and talk titles:

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

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

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

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

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

Lakshmi Ramgopal (Columbia University)
Acculturation and Absence: Where are Attica's Associations of Italians and Romans?

Wu Xiaolong (Hanover College)
Contact, Conflict, and Cultural Identity in First Millennium BC China: Rong and Di Peoples amidst Zhou States

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

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

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