IMISCOE 2020 Conference “Crossing borders, connecting cultures”

June 30 – July 2, 2020

Campus Belval

Borders are vital features of our life, and bordering processes a substantial part of how we negotiate  territory,  access  to  space,  goods,  social  status  and  belonging;  in  other  words,  our relationships to others and the environment in which we live.


Focusing on migration and the movement of people in and across time, space and social orders, sharpens our understanding of the complexity of borders, why they exist, to whom they  matter  and  what  it  takes  to  perceive,  navigate,  cross  or  circumvent  them.  These navigations can look very different for people with specific backgrounds, pertaining to language, culture, race and, importantly, passport.


Previous  conferences  have  looked  into  migration,  the  political,  economic  forces  driving  it,  the ways  it  is  patterned,  administered  and  controlled  by  state  border  regimes,  and  the consequences  migration  has  created  for  people  who  move  and  societies  accommodating people on the move.


Following  this  line  of  enquiry,  this  conference  proposes  to  zoom  deeper  into  the  migration experience  of  people  by  foregrounding  how  migration  is  being  connected  to  culture.  We suggest exploring the nexus of migration and culture in more depth asking how migration is lived, experienced, reflected in, and mediated, in particular, through cultural and artistic practice. We seek to investigate this lens as a way to deepen our understanding of the complexity and difference  of  migration  experience ,  on  the  one  hand,  and  the  possibilities  of  connecting different migrant experiences and groups of people , on the other.


Luxembourg seems an ideal place to frame such a reflection. Being itself very small, Luxembourg benefits from an economic mobility that is particularly high and diverse.  More  than  half  of  the  population  are  of  second  or  third  generation  migrant background, reflecting the country’s past as a key player in the coal and steel industry. The country’s more recent success as a capital in finance and banking, and as an important political player promoting the European Union and running some of its major institutions has attracted a large number of a highly educated work force.


Situated  at  the  heart  of  the  Greater  Region,  including  Luxembourg,  France,  Belgium  and Germany, more than 180.000 people are crossing national borders with Luxembourg daily for  work.  While  Luxembourg  is,  no  doubt,  a  hub  of  mobility,  the  forms  and  experiences  of mobility do vary greatly depending on the conditions of work and life.


This scenario allows us to understand some important issues in more depth:

✓ How  are  people  involved  in  different  forms  of  mobility  (cross  border  workers, Luxembourgish residents, and newly arrived migrants) experience migration or ‘mobility for work’?

✓ What  places  and  forms  of  ‘cultural  encounter’  are  created  (or  not)  because  of  these mobilities?

✓ What meanings are circulated, negotiated, emerging in these ‘cultural encounters’?

✓ How  do  these  experiences  translate  into  forms  of  cultural  and  artistic  practice?  How  are these experiences voiced, mediated and articulated through creative process (e.g. music, literature, film, fine and performing arts)?