Victim, Symbol, or Actor? Middle Eastern Migrants in Transnational Perspectives

Call for Papers - Fourth Annual Coptic Canadian History Project
April 24th, 2020
University of Minnesota, United States

Middle East migrants are portrayed by journalists and politicians as both objects in need of saving and objects of threat. More specifically, ethno-religious minorities are reduced to mere victims and symbols of oppression. Recently, new approaches within scholarly literature have offered reappraisals toward viewing them as actors within their own right. This conference seeks to challenge reductive narratives and elevate nuanced and agential approaches that center Middle East migrants as actors. It also seeks to interrogate communal narratives around victimhood, especially in transnational contexts. Communities of the Middle East cannot be studied in isolation. Each ethno-religious group is relationally and contextually connected to others. Through this conference, we turn our attention to how the desires, lived experiences, hopes, and politics of ethno-religious groups is shaped not only by the realities of other Middle Eastern ethno-religious groups, but also by their geographical contexts. This undertaking allows us to explore how subjectivities of communities transform transnationally and relationally.

The Conference will feature a keynote address by Dr. Angie Heo titled, Copts and Christian-Muslim Mediation: National Unity and Sectarian Exclusion in Egypt. Dr. Angie Heo is an anthropologist of religion at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School.

We will be accepting papers that engage with the theme of the conference. We encourage interdisciplinary submissions on a wide range of topics, including but not limited to:
• Theory and methodology
• History and historiography
• Race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and other identities
• Migration, diaspora and transnationalism
• Religious discourse, practice, communities, and authorities
• Monasticism and asceticism
• Trauma, victimization and memory

The Coptic Canadian History Project (CCHP) is a non-profit community outreach organization at York University. It aims to identify, acquire, digitize, preserve, and provide free access to source materials that reflect the knowledge, collective memory, and experiences of Egypt’s Coptic population, Coptic immigrants and their descendants. The fourth annual CCHP conference aims to encourage scholarly collaboration and to unite junior researchers in the field of Coptic Studies, Middle East Studies, and those researching migration, transnationalism, victimization, and beyond.

Applicants are invited to submit a 250-word abstract for individual papers. Submissions must be accompanied by a short biographical statement and contact information. The deadline for submission is January 25th, 2020. Please note: there is no registration fee, food and refreshments will be provided, and travel and lodging will be partially subsidized. For more information and to submit proposals, please email: or Miray Philips at


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