Immigration issues take forefront at the Medieval Academy of America meeting

The subjects of immigration, migration and borders will be the focus of the Medieval Academy of America when it begins it annual meeting in Arizona this week. The academy and the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies (ACMRS) decided to make these topics a priority as a response to the controversy of having the conference take place in the state.

The annual meeting of the Medieval Academy of America is taking place from April 14th to 16th in the city of Scottsdale, and is one of the most important gatherings of medievalists in North America. Over 140 papers are being given.


Plenary papers include:

Portable Christianity: Relics in the Medieval West, c.700–c.1200, by Julia M. H. Smith

Moral Imperatives and Conundrums of Conscience, by Elizabeth A. R. Brown

The Politics of Fear in the Early Fourteenth-Century, by James Given

Last year a campaign was launched to have the location of the meeting moved after the state of Arizona passed strict laws against illegal immigrants. The campaign led to the academy polling its members, and eventually the Executive Committee decided to keep the conference in Arizona. They also encouraged submissions on the topic of medieval immigration and its interconnected social issues so that the issue could be debated during the conference.

In response, several papers will be presented that relate to this topic, including “Migration and Medieval Sicily” and  “Alien Cloth-Workers in Fourteenth-Century London.” Furthermore, a panel of scholars will talk about “Medieval Backgrounds of Contemporary Issues: Immigration Then and Now.”


“Fear of the other is rooted deep in the human psyche, and exploring how that fear both manifested itself and was dealt with in the past should have a positive impact on how we deal with it in the present,” says ACMRS director Robert E. Bjork.

Click here to see the full program of the meeting

Click here to see the conference website

Click here to see our earlier news article Medieval Academy of America decides to keep its annual meeting in Arizona

Sources: Arizona State University