The Journal of Contemporary Ethnography issues a call for papers for a Special Issue entitled “Migrant Narratives and Ethnographic Tropes: Navigating Tragedy, Creating Possibilities.”

Special Issue: “Migrant Narratives and Ethnographic Tropes: Navigating Tragedy, Creating Possibilities” — Journal of Contemporary Ethnography

This special issue explores how ethnographers describe the experiences of those who cross borders of various sorts through migration. Tragic stories of border crossings are often central to accounts of migration, and as ethnographers we are privy to stories of clandestine crossings, painful separations and unspeakable loss. In the process of writing ethnography, ethnographers make those same stories central to their own arguments and in so doing, those crossings, separations, and losses become knowable, imaginable and part of a larger story of global interconnectedness and inequality.

Ethnographers of migration write about those who cross borders through migration, who become stuck within borders because of poverty and government policies, or who are forcibly moved across borders because of deportation. In so doing, ethnographers position themselves at the crossroads of being activists, storytellers and academics, and also must locate their informants’ narratives along the crossroads of tragedy and possibility.

In recent years there appears to have been an ethnographic shift towards telling even the most tragic of migrant narratives with a tone of possibility and potential. To explore this shift, this special issue will examine how tragic tales are woven into ethnographic accounts and thus the role ethnographers play in constructing the boundaries and crossings they hope to describe. We invite paper submissions that present examples of migrant narratives and the scholar’s own ethnographic interventions.

These papers will ideally include both at least one ethnographic example of a migrant’s narrative and a discussion of the ways ethnographers navigate tragedy and create possibilities through (re)telling of migrant narratives.

Possible questions of focus may include which stories ethnographers choose to tell, how ethnographers choose to tell them, and for what reason? What responsibility do ethnographers have in reshaping these narratives? Does ethnographic storytelling have the potential to influence policy or the future of those boundaries and the migrants who grapple with them? How are choices to narrate tragedy or possibility shaped by theoretical commitments and national contexts?

This special issue will consider these methodological and writing issues while also advancing scholars’ understandings of migration.

This is an open call for papers. All papers will be vetted through an internal and external peer-review process. The editors of JCE will have final say over what is accepted, and submission does not guarantee publication in the journal.

Papers are due on December 1, 2014.

Jeremy Rayner, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Dept of Anthropology
Hunter College, CUNY

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