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Accepted Paper:

The Images of Migration in Liminal Scenes and Sensations  
Marija Dalbello (Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey)

Paper short abstract:

Narrating sensory experiences of the European migration to America in the early 20th century engages a reading and interpretation of trans-generational ancestral, literary, and contemporary autobiographical texts and multiple temporalities as a possible approach to the historiography of migration.

Paper long abstract:

The existential proposition in the liminal states of placement, re-placement, and dis-placement in the context of early 20th century migration from Europe to America is expressed through sensory language of scenes depicting immigrants' passage and settling. The narratives in The Ellis Island Oral History collection offer a close reading of sensate events through trans-generational family tree storytelling. In these vernacular expressions, the genealogists appear to draw on indirect witnessing while engaging post-1960s statist inscriptions of America as "a nation of immigrants" a condition for settling their own subjectivity and citizenship. Alongside those are images of America as a never-visited but imagined place exemplified by Franz Kafka's Amerika or The Man Who Disappeared(1912), framing the displacement transition as a place of 'disappearance' from a European perspective. By contrast, select contemporary personal narrations with vivid descriptions or bodily experience and a phenomenal world in that context are records of 'appearance' through existential action and inscription. A total archive of transatlantic migration as an ancestral appearance within a horizon of generational memory, the image of America as a possible place of disappearance in Kafka's fictional account, and the transitional states marked by sensate recollections in autobiographical narratives mark existential agency. Considered together—the sensate perspectives mediated through personal narration, literary tropes, and fluid statist tropes of America ("we the people", "our fellow citizens", "a nation of immigrants") refracted in trans-generational narrations—have a prismatic effect. They combine the liminal scenes and senses of leaving, moving, and settling in the historiography of migration.

Panel P159
Sensory events, material texts, and phenomenological inscriptions of migration
  Session 1 Friday 17 August, 2018, -