Knowledge in Flight: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Scholar Rescue in North America

05.-08.12.2017, Workshop, New York

The German Historical Institute, The Leo Baeck Institute and The New School for Social Research are organizing a workshop on the movement of scholars from perilous and intellectually-oppressive political situations to new environments that have allowed them to continue their work or even thrive in their chosen discipline. The purpose of the Knowledge in Flight Workshop is to understand the history and contemporary relevance of “scholar rescue”. The Workshop will explore the topic from a variety of perspectives, including historical, institutional, financial, geopolitical, and cultural. The Workshop will also consider a better understanding of the history of scholar rescue and shed light on today’s refugee crisis. 

Workshop papers might focus on one or more of the chapters of scholar rescue in history -- Jewish émigrés from fascist Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, East European and Russian émigrés during the Cold War, and Latin American intellectuals escaping military dictatorships from the 1960s to the 1980s. Papers could also focus on contemporary issues in scholar rescue, connecting to Africa, Asia, or the Middle East.

Previous research on scholar rescue has concentrated on two main areas. On the one hand, there are the individual experiences and academic careers of the refugees themselves. On the other hand, there has been analysis of the impact of brain drain or gain on entire educational systems and on specific disciplines. The Knowledge in Flight Workshop will take measure of this research and policy field from a slightly different angle. We seek to emphasize the politics, culture, and socioeconomics of receiving countries, and in particular the motives, practices, and consequences (whether intended or not) of the acceptance or rejection of academics who had to leave their countries of origin. We encourage case studies or comparative approaches that center on North America; analysis of the actors, institutions, and structures involved; investigations of the constraints they faced; and explorations of the consequences of the provision or denial of support to academic emigrants. We are also interested in whether the experience of receiving or being denied support led refugee academics to develop new perspectives in their scholarly work. 

In sum, we are particularly interested in papers that analyze institutional actors in scholar rescue who may have played a crucial role in helping, hiring, nurturing, or in some cases blocking refugee scholars and the way these actors may have influenced intellectual life. These actors might include universities, foundations, governments, international organizations, social networks of rescued academics, or media outlets. We also encourage papers that provide analysis of scholar rescue today, for example of the fleeing or emigrating scholars from Syria, Iraq, Turkey, or elsewhere. 

Contact Info: 

German Historical Institute, Washington DC

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