The Sea in the 20th – 21st Centuries and the ‘Forbidden Migrations’. Lisbon, 28-29 November 2019

Papers are sought for an upcoming conference in Lisbon, 28-29 November 2019 on the topic of ‘forbidden migrations’. Abstracts are due June 15th. See below for additional info:

The Institute of Contemporary History is organizing the second edition of the conference “The Sea in the 20th – 21st Centuries”, having as topic the irregular human mobilities in the maritime space and areas surrounding ports.

The sea is an ambivalent space: of connections and circulation of peoples, objects and ideas and, at the same time, of control and frontier. Such complexity offers the possibility of transforming the sea into a reality to be studied from different perspectives, namely in what concerns migrations.

The crossing, when it is not disastrous, represents for the individual and its grouping a memorable and defining experience. The journey, usually turbulent, full of risks and uncertainties, produces physical and psychological wounds, shaping the migrants’ path and memories.

Besides the individual perspective, the studies about migratory networks has highlighted the central role of intermediaries or facilitating agents of migration in keeping the irregular flows, organized against the legal framework of the states. Among the facilitating agents, with a diverse socio-professional profile, taking part in the informal migratory process and connecting places of exit, transit and arrival, we wish to highlight in this conference the group of intermediaries linked to the maritime sector: from crewmen to ship-owners, police officers and public employees or associations, international organizations, non-governmental organizations or the “civil society” in general.

In addition, as a geopolitical space the sea allows to establish and confront different individual and collective interests, public and private. The undeniable risks of the clandestine maritime journey demand the coordination among different actors to set the frame for the crossings. Nonetheless, sometimes it is difficult to reach an agreement since to the humanitarian priorities and the rescue of persons in danger of life are juxtaposed the demands for the defense of the national security, having the maritime frontiers as space for the implementation of such control.

Finally, the space of operationalization of the first aid and accommodation of the migrants are other relevant aspects of the framing of the mobility. The diversity of actors acting in different scales shapes this stage, when are developed and constructed actions of humanitarian and/or police/judicial interventions, as well as the facilities for accommodations. The housing of e/immigrants, the hospital services, the detention centers or the refugee’s camps and the prisons, are some of the places created following the national and international guidelines, with its own dynamics of framing, where it is possible to find a differentiated approach according to the type of migrant.

To understand how this multiplicity of actors connected in different historical periods and geographical spaces we aim to explore the following questions: How are organized the migrant crossings by sea? How such experience is lived and conceived by the different migrants? Who are the facilitating agents and how they guarantee the maintenance of the crossing networks? Which rationales and practices are followed in the official framing of the crossings? In which extent the reinforcement of the control of the maritime frontiers is adapted to the migratory reality? Which representations of the sea are conveyed by the different actors?

The relationship among Sea and Migrations represents a fertile field of study due to its manifold thematic intersections and approaches. In this sense, we welcome individual proposals or panel proposals from different Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines about the following or related topics:

-Migration industry and facilitating agents of migrations connected to the maritime space;
-Illegal/clandestine migratory networks;
– Children and women migrations;
-Crossing and narratives of migrants;
-Trauma and migrations;
-National public policies of migration control;
-International governance;
-Non-governmental and humanitarian organizations;
-Security and policing/political culture;
-Deportations and evictions;
-Memory and representations of sea and migrations.

The proposals should include the title of the paper, an abstract (300 words) and a biographical note (including affiliation, academic level and five most recent or relevant publications). The proposals should be sent to the following e-mail:

A publication of some of the papers presented at the conference is a future aim.


Deadline for submission: 15 June 2019
Notification of acceptance: 30 June 2019
Draft of the program: 5 July 2019
Deliver of the manuscript: 30 October 2019
Final program: 15 July 2019
Conference: 28 and 29 November 2019



Students (until 31 August 2019): 40 €
Other participants (until 31 August 2019): 60 €


Conference languages:

Portuguese and English



Marta Silva (IHC – NOVA FCSH)
Yvette Santos (IHC – NOVA FCSH)

Contact Email:

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One Response to The Sea in the 20th – 21st Centuries and the ‘Forbidden Migrations’. Lisbon, 28-29 November 2019

  1. Mary Fraser May 4, 2019 at 3:32 pm #

    Thank you very much for sending me this call for papers. I would normally have submitted soemthing and looked forward to attending the conference, but other commitments at this time do not fit well with your dates.
    I hope you enjoy the conference, I would have loved to have been with you.
    Please send me other notications.
    Best wishes,

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