The early modern period witnessed a dramatic increase in the migration, expulsion and exile of social groups and individuals around the globe. The physical movements of religious refugees triggered widespread, ongoing migrations that shaped both the contours of European colonialist expansion and the construction of regional, national and religious identities. Human movements (both real and imagined) also animated material culture; the presence of bodies, buildings, texts, songs and relics shaped and reshaped the host societies into which immigrants entered. Following exiles and their diasporic communities across Europe and the world enables our exploration of a broad range of social, cultural, linguistic and artistic dynamics, and invites us to reconsider many of the conceptual frameworks by which we understand ‘Renaissance’ and ‘Reformation’.
This conference invites a sustained, comparative and interdisciplinary exploration of the phenomenon and cultural representation of early modern migrations. It also aims to consider how the transmission and translation of material, textual and cultural practices create identity and cross-cultural identifications in contexts animated by the tension between location and dislocation. While often driven by exclusion and intolerance, the exile/refugee experience also encouraged emerging forms of toleration, multiculturalism and notions of cosmopolitanism. In a period in which mobility was a way of life for many, identifications rooted in location were often tenuously sustained even as they could be forcibly asserted in cultural representation.
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