Commodities and Migration: Things out of Place @ NYU Dec 8-10th

Commodities and Migration: Things out of Place
Conference: December 8-10, 2011
Department of English, New York University

Migrations move not only people but also things. This conference will consider the ways in which movements of people have changed the meanings, uses and exchanges of the things they carried, the things they left behind, the things they came to sell, to plant, to propagate or to re-function. Reading commodities in their travel, circulation and translation into new forms allows us new means to study material cultures, migration histories and diasporas. What are the changes in meaning, use, or value of a commodity when it migrates or when it is transformed by a migrating person or population? What happens to commodities across time and space? Translation? Profanation? Vernacularization? Authentification?

This is the third and final conference of the Leverhulme-funded international research network ‘Commodities and Culture in the Colonial World, 1851-1914’ (

The conference will feature a two-day public conference open to all on December 8th and 9th, followed by a one-day workshop limited to the network participants and invitees on December 10th.


December 8
Great Room, 19 University Place
9.30-9.45: Welcome and Introduction

9.45-11.00: Session 1
Elaine Freedgood (English, NYU)
“Ghostly Migrations”

Priyanka Anne Jacob (Ph.d. student, Princeton) “A Taste for Catholic Spoils: Fashion, Dispossession, and Equivocal Objects in Daniel Deronda.

Mia Chen (Ph.d. student, CUNY) “Money/Commodity/Fetish: Hard Cash and Paranoid Capitalism.”

Chair: Tanya Agathocleous (English, Hunter College, CUNY)

11.00-11.15: Coffee

11.15-1.15: Session 2
Zeynep Celik (Distinguished Professor of Architecture, New Jersey School of Architecture, NJIT)
“In Algiers: Persistent Memories, Mobile Memorials.”

Adam McKeown (History, Columbia University) “Rethinking the ‘Coolie’: Chinese Labor as Commodity”

Isobel Armstrong (Emeritus Professor of English, Birkbeck, University of London) “The Traffic in Representations”

Chair: Jini Watson (English, NYU)

1.15-2.15: Lunch

2.15-3.30: Session 3
Arjun Appadurai (Paulette Goddard Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication, NYU)
“Objects and Persons in the Age of Financialization”

Hasia Diner (Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History, NYU) “Roads Taken: Jewish Peddlers and the Discovery of Their New World.”

Chair: Brian Murray (English, King’s College, London)

3.30-3.45: Coffee

3.45-5.00: Session 4
Martin Harries (English, NYU)
Dog Food, Ending in Beckett”

Elizabeth DeLoughrey (English, UCLA) “Natural Modernities: Shells of War”

Chair: Patrick Deer (English, NYU)

5.00-6.15: Session 5
Josephine McDonagh (English, King’s College, London)
“Village Peoples”

Supriya Chaudhuri (English, Jadavpur University) “Migrated Objects: Between Commodity and Fetish”

Chair: Judith Plotz (English, The George Washington University)

6.30-8.00: Reception


Friday, December 9th.
Great Room, 19 University Place

9.30-11.00: Session 6
Regenia Gagnier (English, University of Exeter)  
‘Dream of a Red Language: on the Global Circulation of Critical Literatures.’

Ian Henderson (English, King’s College, London) ‘Victoria’s Planet: commodities, culture and ‘her subjects at the antipodes’.’

Respondent: Paul Young (English, University of Exeter)

11.00-11.15: Coffee

11.15-12.45: Session 7
Stephen Muecke (University of New South Wales) 
‘The Composition and Decomposition of the Commodity’  

Marget Long (Cooper Union) ‘The Jenny Lind Head Rest and Notes on Feeling Photography Less’

Respondent: Toral Gajarawala (English, NYU)

12.45-1.30: Session 8

Elizabeth Gunner (WISER, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa) ‘Soundwaves – Radio as Commodity and Object of Dispute: South Africa in 1960’.

Respondent: Joseph Napolitano (Ph.d. student, English, NYU)

1.30-2.15: lunch

2.15-3.30: Session 8
Alison Wood (Post-doctoral fellow, Cambridge University)
‘Zoological Things, Global Traffic and the Idea of a Secular Clerisy.’

Rabia Shahzad (Ph.d. student, English, NYU)From Deception to Dexterity: The Indian Juggler and the English Fakir’

Fariha Shaikh (Ph.d. student, English, King’s College, London) ‘‘Mystical Holes’ and ‘Crooked Pins’: The Production of Authenticity in Printed Emigrants’ Letters’

Respondent: John Maynard (English, NYU)

3.30: 3.45: Coffee

The conference is generously supported by: the Leverhulme Trust, UK; the Humanities Initiative, NYU; Dean, Faculty of Arts and Science, NYU; the Anglophone Project, NYU; Department of English, NYU; the Fales Library and special Collections, NYU; Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, NYU; and RH Gallery, New York.