The American Mosaic: Immigration, Expatriation, Exile
University of Central Florida
March 26-28, 2015
Oscar Handling in his 1951 book The Uprooted, writing on the great migrations of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries that forever changed America, penned the following words, “I shall touch upon broken homes, interruptions of a familiar life, separation from known sorroundings, becoming a foreigner and ceasing to belong. . . the history of immigration is a history of alienation and its consequences.” Today many countries around the world are experiencing large-scale social and demographic changes that will probably alter their social fiber forever. These large-scale changes make immigration one of the most important issues in today's world, a world made smaller and almost borderless, by the seamless and instant transfer of information across the world wide web. Our senses are flooded on a twenty-four hour basis with arguments for and against globalization, free trade, news of international banking conglomerates, and of industries whose interests span the globe. However, in this frenzied movement of capital, of buying and selling assets, of mergers, in the rush toward a borderless world, there seems to be one item left behind, the human being. The message is "We love your cheap labor, but we don't love you. Your bodies, especially the darker ones, need to stay where they are and keep on greasing the wheels of the new and improved borderless world.” (John Brady and Robert Soza. “Introduction” to Immigration and Diaspora. Issue #60, Bad Subjects, April 2002)
This is a twenty-first century view but emigration, exile, expatriation have been part of the human existence and consciousness from the beginning of recorded time. With this in mind, we at the College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Central Florida and the Franklin Institute of North American Studies of the Universidad de Alcalá de Henares, Spain, decided to organize a conference The American Mosaic: Immigration, Expatriation, Exile. This colloquium was born from an ongoing discussion we have been having over many years on the themes of exile and immigrant writing, hyphenation, cultural boundaries, the breaking of such boundaries, and bilingualism: An ongoing conversation that becomes more complex with the passing years.
This is a two part conference. The first part was held in Alcalá de Henares at the Franklin Institute, now the second part will be held at the University of Central Florida, Orlando. We invite you to join us.