Mobile Culture Studies. The Journal

The materialities of belonging: Objects in/of exile across the Mediterranean

Objects in/of exile across the Mediterranean

Posted on

Expected response for the 15/04/2021

Response type Résumé

Expected contribution type article

Publication name Mobile Culture Studies. The Journal


  • Dr. Piera Rossetto, Hertha Firnberg Post-doc research fellow, Centre for Jewish Studies - University of Graz ,
  • Dr. Ewa Tartakowsky, Fondation pour la mémoire de la Shoah and Memorial Foundation for Jewish Studies Post-doc research fellow, Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique (CNRS – Paris Nanterre University – ENS Paris-Saclay) ,


But to be certain of our own existence, we need the objects, the gestures, and the words.

Herta Müller


As a transdisciplinary field of research which has been steadily growing and expan- ding (Faulconbridge and Hui 2016), mobilities studies (Hannam et al. 2006; Sheller and Urry 2006) gave new input also to the discussion about the relationship between migrant worlds and material cultures, between mobility and materiality (Basu and Coleman 2008). However, as noted by anthropologist Galitzine-Loumpet, “the many sociological and anthropological studies of the migratory phenomenon take only partial interest on objects; as well as studies on material culture rarely consider […] objects within the mobility condition peculiar to migration“ (2013: 4, our translation).

Since the beginning of the 2010s, a growing number of research projects and publications has appeared, seeking “to understand the relationships of humans and things in the context of flight and migration”1 — such as “objects of exile” (Bishoff and Schlör 2013a), “precipitates of re-memory” (Tolia-Kelly 2004), a constellation of things that were left behind or taken with, that went lost or managed to survive. Objects in exile and objects of exile2 are interrogated and conceived as “relational objects,” bearing a “cumulative memory” and belonging to both realms of “material- ity and immateriality” (Galitzine-Loumpet 2013).

This thematic issue of Mobile Culture Studies. The Journal ›mcsj› is dedicated to the “unexpected directions” that research can take, when things are taken seriously (Brown 2001; 2004; 2015). Like human beings, things also “embark on a journey and find themselves somewhere — elsewhere in the world — again” (Bishoff and Schlör 2013b: 9, our translation). To follow the trajectories of displaced things and persons means to be open to the “surprise of movement,” to the “cultural connections be- tween unexpected times and places” (Greenblatt 2010: 18; 17), to the dynamics of agencement, assemblage (Deleuze and Guattari 2003).

The same entanglement of materiality, agency, and subjecthood can also be considered from a less explored and yet equally fruitful perspective: a self-reflective stance from the researcher’s part — which could also include a gendered approach – towards the objects in/of exile. This perspective opens the issue methodologically to different autoethnographic practices of research (Reed-Danahay 2017) and writing (Ellis 1999), along with more traditional scientific articles. We welcome contributions in other formats which are facilitated by the online format of the journal: (scientific) interviews, the dialogic writing of contributions, audio data such as podcasts, creati- ve examinations of the topic (narratives, poems, or illustrations).

The contributions should focus on the Mediterranean region, which has always been the place of multiple exchanges of people, ideas, and objects (Trivellato et al. 2014). The issues concerning the restitution of African heritage by the European ex- colonial empires can also be discussed as one of the angles from which to think a socio-material landscape of these “migrant” objects, their movement and the socio- political practices connected to them (Sarr and Savoy 2018).

Analyses for the thematic issue could deal with one or more of the following aspects:

  1. Research on objects: analysis of objects brought by migrants in the relational perspective, of objects that have changed their social biotope and the reconfigurations and new status that this implies in terms of related practices.
  2. Research with objects: analysis of objects used by researchers as a tool in their interactions with the empirical field of research on Mediterranean migration; the relationship between researchers and the objects brought from their research field and/or with respondents who have offered objects to them; how do objects stimu- late the “sociological imagination” (Mills 1959)?
  3. Restitution by objects: analysis of epistemological issues connected to creative and alternative (i.e. non-academic) restitutions of research by objects (Alexandre- Garner and Galitzine-Loumpet 2020); what happens when the researcher her- self/himself is the one who moves or find herself/himself in a condition of exilance (Nuselovici 2013)? Why does the researcher stop at a particular object when listening, reading, looking at these stories of migration and/or exile?

As we find ourselves, paradoxically, looking at mobilities in and from a global standstill, we welcome further approaches and research questions to the un- predictable relationships between mobilities and materialities.

Mobile Culture Studies. The Journal ›mcsj›

Grounded in the humanities, Mobile Culture Studies. The Journal ›mcsj› is a multilingual, peer-reviewed, academic open-access journal without author fees, published by the Karl-Franzens-University, Graz (Austria), in the form of a yearbook. It covers the transdisciplinary field of mobility and publishes research-based contributions on the cultural and social phenomena of mobilities and their counterparts; on historical evidence of people’s mobile practices; representations of mobility in oral, written, and visual culture; and on changing concepts of mobility.

For the Authors

Consistent with ›mcsj›’s mission articles can be submitted in English, French, German, or Italian (see: Non-English contributions should be accompanied by an extended English summary. The contributions are peer reviewed. The average length of articles can be up to 8,000 words.

Suggestions, including a title, an abstract of approximately 350 words and a short CV, should be addressed to the guest editors:

  •, Dr. Piera Rossetto, Hertha Firnberg Post-doc research fellow, Centre for Jewish Studies – University of Graz
  •, Dr. Ewa Tartakowsky, Fondation pour la mémoire de la Shoah and Memorial Foundation for Jewish Studies Post-doc research fellow, Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique (CNRS – Paris Nanterre University – ENS Paris-Saclay)

The deadline for abstracts is April 15, 2021.
Notification about acceptance will be given by April 30, 2021.
The full manuscripts are to be submitted by September 15, 2021.
Thereafter the manuscripts will be peer-reviewed and, if necessary, revised. Publication is scheduled for June 2022.

Authors who are not native speakers should have texts translated and/or edited. Any expenses incurred in by Authors in connection to the editing and translation of their work will be borne by the Authors themselves.


Alexandre-Garner, C., and A. Galitzine-Loumpet (eds). 2020. L’objet de la migration, le sujet en exil (Nanterre: Presses universitaires de Nanterre).

Basu, P., and S. Coleman. 2008. ‘Introduction: Migrant Worlds, Material Cultures’, Mobilities 3/3: 313-330.

Bishoff, D., and J. Schlör (eds.). (2013a). Dinge des Exils (Munich: Text + Kritik).

——. (2013b). ‘Dinge des Exils. Zur Einleitung’, in Dinge des Exils, ed. by D. Bishoff and J. Schlör (Munich: Text + Kritik), 9-20.

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—— (ed.). 2015. Other Things (Chicago: University of Chicago Press).

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Galitzine-Loumpet, Alexandra. 2013. Pour une typologie des objets de l’exil. FMSH-WP- 2013-46. URL:

Nuselovici (Nouss), Alexis. 2013. Exiliance : condition et conscience, FMSH-WP-2013-44. URL:

Greenblatt, Stephen. 1990. ‘Resonance and Wonder’, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 43/4: 11-34.

—— 2010. ‘Cultural Mobility: An Introduction’, in Greenblatt et al. (eds.), Cultural Mobility: A Manifesto (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), 1-23.

Hannam, K., M. Sheller, and J. Urry. 2006. ‘Editorial: Mobilities, Immobilities and Moorings’, Mobilities 1/1: 1-22.

Mills, C. Wright. 1959. The Sociological Imagination (Oxford, Oxford University Press).

Reed-Danahay, Deborah. 2017. ‘Autoethnography’, in Oxford Bibliographies in Anthropology, ed. by John Jackson (New York: Oxford University Press).

Rügen, Jan. 2010. ‘OXO: Or, the Challenges of Transnational History’, European History Quarterly 40/4: 656-668. 

Sarr, F., and B. Savoy. 2018. Restituer le patrimoine africain (Paris, P. Ray/Seuil).

Sheller M., and J. Urry. 2006. ‘The New Mobilities Paradigm’, Environment and Planning, A 38: 207-226.

Struck B., K. Ferris, and J. Revel. 2011. ‘Introduction: Space and Scale in Transnational History’, The International History Review 33/4: 573-584.

Tolia-Kelly, Divya Praful. 2004. ‘Locating processes of identification. Studying the precipitates of re-memory through artefacts in the British Asian home’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 29/3: 314-329.

Trivellato F., L. Halevi, and C. Antunes (eds.). 2014. Religion and Trade, Cross-Cultural Exchanges in World History, 1000-1900 (Oxford, Oxford University Press).