Roundtable with the editors of

Migrants Shaping Europe, Past and Present


2-4 PM, Via zoom


Zoom Link


Tenley Bick,  Vincent Joos, Akash Kumar, Raquel Salvatella de Prada,  Helen Solterer,  

Anna Tybinko, Saskia Ziolkowski,  

Register for the Event

"This comparative volume examines the sustained contribution of migrants to Europe’s literatures, social cultures, and arts over centuries. Europe has never been a continent bounded by the seas that surround it. In premodern times, migrants imprinted the languages, arts, and literatures of the places where they settled. They contributed to these cultures and economies. Some were on the move in search of a better life; others were displaced by war, dispossessed, expelled; while still others were brought in servitude to European cities to work, enslaved. Today’s immigration flows in Europe are not exceptional but anchored in this longue durée process. Iberia/Maghreb, Sicily/Lampedusa, Calais are the three hotspots considered in this volume. These regions have been shaped and continue to be shaped by migrants; by their cultures; their Spanish, Arabic, Italian, and Somali; their French, English and Mandarin languages. They are also shaped by migrants’ struggles".


About the Roundtable

This roundtable brings the scholars and artists who wrote Migrants shaping Europe, past and present in an engaging discussion that challenges the cultural history of European migration by reflecting on the forces that have put people into motion since the premodern period and by examining the visual arts, literature, and multilingual social worlds fostered by migration. This historically expansive and multilingual approach to mobility and expressiveness makes a crucial contribution: migrants as a lifeblood of European cultures. We will have a short introduction by the editors of the book, Dr. Vincent Joos and Dr. Helen Solterer followed by a collective discussion that will help us understand how migrants have been shaping Europe, past and present as well as future.


Tenley Bick (she/her) is Assistant Professor of Global Modern and Contemporary Art in the Department of Art History at Florida State University. Her research addresses the relationship between modern and contemporary art, politics, and historiography, with special interest in postcolonial histories of Italian art, African art and cinema, and cross-Mediterranean exchange between modern Italy and East Africa. She has published articles in a range of journals, including Word & Image, Third Text, Forum Italicum, and African Arts; catalog essays for museums and arts institutions in the U.S. and Italy; and chapters in edited volumes on topics in postwar Italian, African diasporic, and global contemporary art. She is the founder and curator of Costellazione (, her peer-reviewed, bilingual digital project on contemporary Italian art and activism. Her first monograph, Michelangelo Pistoletto: Figuration and Cultural Politics, is currently under review at Yale University Press. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. in art history from UCLA, and a B.A. with Honors in art history from Stanford University.


Vincent Joos (PhD, UNC Chapel Hill) is a cultural anthropologist who researches post-disaster reconstruction and the relations between states, citizens, and international organizations in the Caribbean.His new book, Urban Dwelling, Haitian Citizenships tracks the vernacular transformation of urban space by people excluded from the aid economy in post-earthquake Haiti. Joos also writes about the history of immigration and border infrastructure in Calais, France.



Akash Kumar is Assistant Professor of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His research focuses on medieval Italian literature through the lens of Mediterranean and global culture, from the history of science to the origins of popular phenomena such as the game of chess. In addition to his contribution to Migrants Shaping Europe, his recent work on a global Dante has appeared in the Blackwell Companion to World Literature (2020), the volume Dante Beyond Borders (Legenda, 2021), and a special issue of MLN dedicated to Charles S. Singleton (2022). Akash also serves as Editor of Dante Notes, the digital publication of the Dante Society of America.


Raquel Salvatella de Prada is an artist and associate professor of the practice of visual arts at Duke University. She integrates experimental video and animation with different traditional art forms, often by collaborating with artists of diverse backgrounds such as printmaking, installation art and performance. Her recent works focus on social and environmental issues. She finds that the combination of digital and physical visual media allows her to reach audiences at an abstract, artistic, and atmospheric level, thereby engaging them with topics to which they might not otherwise open their minds. Her work has been featured at art exhibitions, film festivals and on stages across the country and internationally


Helen Solterer is Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Duke University. Her work combines research in literature and culture around 1400 with twentieth-century cultural history. With her seminar members, and in her writing, she practices a style of criticism that considers early cultures in relation to debates today. Almanach of Timely Fictions, her latest book in this vein, is nearing completion. Earlier books include: Medieval Roles for Modern Times, Theater and the Battle for the French Republic, translated into French, and the MLA prize-winning Master and Minerva, a feminist inquiry into early conceptions of defamation and libel.

Anna Tybinko received her doctorate in Romance Studies from Duke University in 2021. She is currently a NEH Collaborative Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Spanish & Portuguese at Vanderbilt University where she also co-directs the Urban Humanities Seminar. As a scholar of Migration and Border Studies in the Iberian context, Anna’s research engages questions of race and racial “bordering” in Spanish cities. In addition to her contribution to Migrants Shaping Europe she has published in Studies in Twentieth and Twentieth Century Literatures; contributed an essay to the Routledge volume, Twenty-First Century Arab and African Diasporas in Spain, Portugal and Latin America; is co-editor of Migrant Frontiers: Race and Mobility in the Luso-Hispanic World due out with Liverpool University Press this fall; and is developing the manuscript for her monograph Urban Borderlands: Contesting Racial Boundaries in Contemporary Spain. Her work has earned awards from the National Endowments for Humanities, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Council for Learned Societies.


Saskia Elizabeth Ziolkowski is Associate Professor of Romance Studies and faculty in German and Jewish Studies at Duke University. She works on Italian literature from a comparative perspective, with a focus on modernism, migration, Jewish identities, Austro-Italian connections, and world literature. Her book, Kafka's Italian Progeny (University of Toronto Press, awarded the American Association of Italian Studies 2020 Book Prize in Literary Studies), explores Kafka's connections with writers who have shaped Italy's literary landscape. She has also published on Thomas Bernhard, Dino Buzzati, Italo Calvino, Elena Ferrante, Natalia Ginzburg, Helena Janeczek, G.E. Lessing, Primo Levi, Elsa Morante, Robert Musil, Joseph Roth, Rainer Maria Rilke, Igiaba Scego, and Italo Svevo.