Call for Papers: Bodies on the Edge: Life and Death in Migration

Call for Proposals is now open for the Thanatic Ethics Project’s International Conference on the topic of ‘Bodies on the Edge: Life and Death in Migration’.

The conference takes place from 28-30 April 2022, and contributions are specifically welcomed from the Humanities, Social Sciences and related disciplines on a number of themes detailed below.

Constantly surveilled yet paradoxically unseen, the bodies of dead migrants follow the tracks of the living on migratory routes. On their perilous journey to foreign lands, migrants come close to death or encounter it. Once settled, some of them yearn to be buried with their ancestors in their homeland, a few prefer the soil where their children grew up.

The Thanatic Ethics project explores the social implications and aesthetic representations of the circulation of bodies in migratory spaces. After a series of webinars and two workshops (October 2020 to September 2021), the Oxford Thanatic Ethics conference seeks to address the liminalities of life and death in migratory spaces.

Contributions are welcomed from the Humanities, Social Sciences and related disciplines (multi and transdisciplinary perspectives will be favoured) on the following themes (though not exclusively):

Methodologies addressing the relation between life and death: life writing, digital humanities, migration death databases, etc.

  • Policy narratives and measures of migrant death in anti-emigration campaigns and migrant death counting;
  • The humanitarian reason and migrant vulnerability in migration management;
  • Necropolitical ecologies: the relation between migrants and their environment on migration routes;
  • International organ trafficking; the integrity of the human body, dead or alive;
  • Liminalities between organic and non-organic matter, human and non-human;
  • Contemporary rituality (body repatriation, burial committees), its economics, its administration and politics (insurance schemes, debts to be paid, death certificate to be issued etc.);
  • Contemporary unrituality: collective, militant and artistic projects meant to dignify the disappearance of those left with no trace;
  • Spectrality: ghosts, spectres and zombification in the postcolonial perspective on migration;
  • Living-dead identities: usurpation of the identities of the dead.
  • Migrant deaths in times of Covid-19: Migrants have been over-represented in Covid-19 hospitalisations and deaths; at the same time, migrants have also been portrayed as threats (as ‘corona spreaders’) potentially causing the death of ‘others’. How are colonial legacies being reproduced with the bodies, lives and deaths of migrants within and outside the borders?

Contributors are invited to send their proposals (a 250-word abstract, title, author’s name, a 150-word bio, and contact information) to the conference email address: by 15 December 2021. 

Each presentation should be 20 minutes (followed by discussion time). A selection of papers will be considered for publication.

For more information, please visit the Thanatic Ethics website.