Imaging Emigration––Translating Exile: Cultural Translation and Knowledge Transfer on Alternative Routes of Escape from Nazi Terror in/via Austria

The Academic discourse surrounding Austrian refugee Jewish exiles fleeing National Socialism has developed relatively recently and was trigged initially by the “Commemorative year 1988”. Initially, research focused on literature and its presentation and concept of “exile”. From this followed interest by academics working in different fields in the wider aspects of exile and its manifold cultural implications. In addition, cultural turns have affected questions and approaches taken within exile research thereby setting new trends in the field. Research on the history of knowledge has shown that the transfer of cultural capital triggered by refugees has led to the circular exchange of ideas, affecting developments in both the donor and recipient countries. This mutual cultural mediation has particularly affected developments in broader culture and arts. Recent research highlights and comments on the importance of cultural translation and translators.  

Cultural translation as a strategy used to master the challenges and difficulties of life spent in exile or emigration, however, has yet to receive much attention. Moreover, the question of how persecuted people imagined or preconceived exile in order to consider the option of emigration is poorly researched.This is of particularinterest, since how they imagine their future lives spent in exile before, during and after they emigrate has the potential to influence the cultural activities they undertake and their contributions in the contexts of their new environments. Additionally, the differing routes taken by refugees during emigration and transmigration to and via Paris, London, New York and Shanghai have been well-documented and carefully researched, leaving studies in others destinations and routes underexplored.

This conference has been organized to pursue two wider objectives. Firstly, we seek to present alternative routes of emigration taken by musicians, writers, singers and other artists who came from Austria or passed through Austria after the 1938 “Anschluss”. Secondly, inspired by the translational turnin cultural studies, we intend to focus on exiles and emigrants as cultural translators and/or mediators. We shall ask which cultural capital was imported. How did they translate and adapt this capital to their new living contexts? And how did the refugees imagine their emigration would translate into exile? More specifically, we are interested in addressing the question of how refugees conceptualized emigration and exile and how they translated cultural capital into their professional work. 

The organizers look forward to receiving abstracts of not more than 300 words (including a brief CV) by researchers from all relevant disciplines. Please send the abstract plus brief CV per mail (to philipp.strobl@uibk.ac.at and susanne.korbel@uni-graz.at) by 30 December 2018. The abstracts must address at least one of the following lead questions: 

  • How did artists envisage their alternative routes of escape?
  • Where did the specific routes lead to?
  • How did their perception of escape, exile and emigration affect their artistic work?
  • Which impact did their cultural translations have on societies in new homes?
  • To what degree were experiences made on alternative emigration routes included in their artistic work? 
  • Which function did cultural translations perform as performative strategies with respect to their professional work or as part of the process of knowledge transfer? 
  • How important were institutional and personal networks for translation processes?  
  • “Failure in exile”––to what extent could émigrés translate their capital within new context? If these attempts failed, when and why did they fail?

The organizers intend to secure travel allowances for those participants who have no academic affiliation or are unable to cover their travel expenditures. In the abstract, please indicate whether you would like to apply for a travel allowance.

When: 1 – 3 April 2019

Where: Center for exil.Arte at the University of Music and Applied Arts Vienna, Austria

Conference organizers: SusanneKorbel (Center for Jewish Studies, University of Graz) und Philipp Strobl (Institute for Contemporary History, University of Innsbruck)Related date: October 30, 2018 to December 30, 2018