"Coming home: the post-war return of refugee scholarship" conference

8.11.2018
Helsinki, April 10th – 12th 2019

Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity, and the European Narratives of the Academy of Finland

Centre for European Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

The process of “refugee scholarship”, whereby scholars finding themselves in a conflict situation forcing them to flee their pre-existing academic context and thus having to adapt their scholarship to suit the new environment has been widely researched in the context of post-war scholarship and exile studies. Questions remain however relating both to the scientific change in the result of exile and studying the contemporary refugee scholarship. What happens when the conflict is over, and refugee scholarship “comes home”? And what are the new ways and methods of studying such scholarship in the context of the contemporary refugee and migration crisis?

The main instance of refugee scholarship coming home relatively successfully is the reinstatement after the Second World War of the work of those from the humanities and social sciences that had escaped the atrocities of the Nazi regime in Europe between 1933 and 1945. Post-War Europe saw a search for a new legal-political system: in this context, some refugee scholars had retained their authority among their peers despite being ousted, and some obtained a new-found audience for the works they had composed before and during the War. In their new academic environment, not all refugee scholars were successful in the process of adaptation: yet, those that were had been elementary in the foundation of novel fields of legal and political science particularly in the Anglo-American academic world. Arguably, these fields such as international relations could be classified as hybrids, containing scientific elements from both the continental European and Anglo-American academic traditions. To approach the return of refugee scholarship as a concept, the conference strives to link exile studies with contemporary refugee and migration studies in order to explore new methods of studying migration and its links with knowledge production. As such, it explores the possibility of historical parallels with the experiences of scholars as well as other asylum seekers on route or in Europe currently.

The conference revolves around the following set of questions in particular:

* In what measure does the status as (erstwhile) refugee scholars determine the scope of their influence?

* How does the refugee experience transform scholarship? Is it even possible to generalize here, or should this purely be determined on a case-by-case basis?

* What happens when a hybrid form of scholarship comes to be reinstated in its “old” academic and institutional context? Do both elements survive or is the hybrid stripped of its new context, retaining what was familiar for those that had stayed behind?

* What are the institutional, political, and societal consequences of a return of refugee scholarship to its former context?

* Is there a historically valid parallel present between historical and current instances of refugee crises?

* What is the contribution of mobility to knowledge in general, and scientific knowledge in particular?

The conference aims at a cross- and multidisciplinary perspective on the issues of refugee scholarship coming home and a new wave of scholars and intellectuals displaced by ongoing conflicts. Speakers and panelists are explicitly invited to engage with scientific disciplines other than their own, as well as taking into account both pre-Second World War and post-1945 historical continuities and discontinuities as well as contemporary discussions.

Confirmed keynote speakers include:

Michael Hoeflich, professor of law at the University of Kansas

Christina Eckes, professor of European law at the University of Amsterdam

Richard Lebow, professor of international political theory at Kingʼs College London

Dana Schmalz, visiting scholar at the Zolberg Institute of the New School, NY

The conference will be held on the 10th, 11th and 12th of April 2019. The deadline for abstracts (max. 500 words) is February 15th, 2019. The abstracts and further queries may be sent to Jacob Giltaij (jacob.giltaij@helsinki.fi), university researcher at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence for Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EUROSTORIE, eurostorie.org) of the University of Helsinki. The organizers will unfortunately be unable to assist with travel arrangements or costs.

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