Beyond the ‘Good’/’Bad’ Migrant Dichotomy: Ways Forward for Early Modern & Contemporary History

Date / time: 5 September, All day

Workshop – 5 September 2023 | London (Venue: TBD)

Call for seminar facilitators and participants, submission deadline – 12 June 2023, 5 pm

The Early Modern Migration Reading Group invites researchers to contribute to our workshop. Our workshop aims to investigate the categorisation of migrants into a dichotomy of good/bad in history, in order to develop more relevant and nuanced ways to investigate, think about, and communicate early modern migration. Part of this investigation involves understanding how historic migrations inform debates about contemporary migration. Undertaking this work requires a commitment to interdisciplinarity and working with those with lived experience.

This workshop will bring together researchers at all stages of their careers, and may involve input from activists with lived experience. Our keynote speaker is Lucy Mayblin, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, University of Sheffield, and author of Asylum After Empire: Postcolonial Legacies in the Politics of Asylum Seeking (2017).

If you would be interested in participating in the workshop (but not facilitating a seminar) please sign up here. We are also seeking people to facilitate the following workshops/seminars:

Defining the migrant and the refugee

  • Focusing on definitions of the migrant(s) in law, policy, and other contexts, with reference to historical definitions.
  • How discourse impacts on both defining groups and how these definitions are understood and used.
  • The problems (and possibilities) of using these terms in historical investigations.

Race/class/gender and the migrant and the refugee

  • How do the concepts of race and/or class and/or gender complicate our definitions of the refugee/migrant?
  • How can interdisciplinarity enrich or complicate historical investigations of migration and mobility?

Each session will last forty-five minutes, and will ideally comprise a short presentation by the leader, followed by a facilitated discussion. We are eager to encourage applicants at all stages of their careers: if you would like to discuss what a workshop might look like, please get in touch! You can reach us on We are happy to co-produce any sessions.

If you would like to present a seminar, please fill in this form. We would like you to provide a brief summary of how you would run a seminar, as well as some details about yourself.

The closing date for submission of expressions of interest is 5pm on 12th June 2023.

Presentations must be given in person. Lunch and refreshments will be provided, and we may be able to provide a travel bursary.

We hope that the findings of this workshop will be written up for publication in a journal or blog, and any facilitators will be supported to engage in this.

This event is funded by the Royal Historical Society as part of its RHS Workshops programme, 2023. The annual scheme provides funding for historians to meet together to work collaboratively, and in detail, on a range of activities — such as research projects, testing of research ideas, planning for grant bids, networking or other discussions necessary for academic work. The organisers are very grateful to the Royal Historical Society for funding this workshop.

For more on the Society’s workshop programmes 2023-24 see:

The Early Modern Migration Reading Group is a collective of PGR and ECR historians engaging critically with the historiography of early modern migration. We seek to understand – and challenge – the ways early modern migration is written about and used to construct narratives both in early modernity and for our contemporary context.

Image: Wiki Commons