Scholars in Exile and Dictatorships of the 20th Century

Scholars in Exile and Dictatorships of the 20th Century

Centre for the History of Sciences and Humanities; Institute for Contemporary History of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic; in cooperation with the National Technical Museum in Prague; and Masaryk Institute; and Archives of the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
From - Until
24.05.2011 - 26.05.2010
Doubravka Olsakova, European Science Foundation Institute of Contemporary History of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Issues concerning scientists in exile have attracted attention especially in relation to the large emigration wave that hit Europe facing the Nazi regime. This wave has been already well documented by numerous encyclopaedic projects, treated in synthetic works, and also analyzed from the methodological point of view. Still, other émigré and exile waves in 20th century Europe have so far escaped more detailed attention, like those that were evoked by European and non-European authoritarian regimes and dictatorships or other malignant political developments.

Insufficiently explored as yet is the effect of the Communist regimes that came into power in first in the Soviet Union and later in several European countries on escapes of scholars (both the average and top ones) to outside their spheres of influence. This process retained in all these countries its significant specific features and took its particular time course depending on the acuteness of the local political pressure. Attention seeking are also the problems concerning intellectuals and scholars expelled from their home countries by several other authoritarian regimes, some of which have been active up to the present day. The announced Conference approaches these questions from two angles – partly from the all- European perspective and partly considering the Czech developments.

Thus from the all-European perspective the Conference will deal in particular with three large and partially overlapping migration waves:
a) Escapes of scholars from the German Nazi rule and its allies in Italy, Spain and other
countries (1933 – 1945)
b) Escapes of scholars from the Communist rule (1917 – 1989)
c) Immigration of scholars to European countries after World War II in seeking escape from authoritarian regimes in their home countries (1945 until today).

The analysis of these migration waves enables to consider especially the following questions:
- Of fundamental importance is first of all correlation of the developments in the individual European countries, comparison of temporal distribution of emigration, its internal dynamics and national specific features
- Connection between emigration of scholars and malevolent ideologies associated with the dictatorships (the influence of racial theories and approaches, the role of the so called “stratum of intelligentsia” in the periods of escalated class hatred, and others)
- Ways of formation of supranational or international networks supporting émigré scholars (aid organized by the League of Nations or later UNO, organizations like the British Society for the Protection of Science and Learning or Council for Assisting Refugee Academics)
- Various concepts in approaches of individual countries towards scholars leaving for exile, analogies and dissimilarities (for instance, is there something like a “European concept” that would differentiate the approach of European countries from the policies of the USA or other non-European states towards the exile scholars?)
- How can be distinguished these politically motivated exile waves from the so-called “brain drain” stimulated in the first place by existential and economic aspects with the view of professional career?
- Were there other alternatives than emigration for open-minded scholars with free way of thinking (conformity with the regime, the so-called “internal emigration”, gulags and similar establishments, and others)?

From the standpoint of the Czech developments, the Conference should deal with the following migration waves:
- Russian, Ukrainian and Belorussian emigration in the years 1918 – 1948 and its survival during the Communist regime
- Emigration waves from Germany and Austria in the years 1933 – 1939 and the position of intellectuals within
- Emigration of scholars from the former Czechoslovakia in the years 1939 – 1945, its tracks and forms
- Difficulties in the developments in the years 1945 – 1948 inconsistencies in dealings with returning scholars, Czech and Slovak opposition living abroad)
- The first major emigration wave from the Communist Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup in February 1948 and the position of scholars within
- Emigration of scholars from the Communist Czechoslovakia in the period after the Warsaw Pact armies invasion in August 1968
- Inconsistent relationship of the Czechoslovak public to exile scholars returning home after 1989
- Long-term departures of the Czech scholars for abroad after 1989; its comparison with emigration from the Communists Czechoslovakia

The organizers welcome especially contributions related to particular scientific institutions, specific situations and characteristics of individual fields, both in sciences and humanities. In relation to Czech exile, the Conference attempts to accomplish two tasks: determine the present state of research and serve as a platform where the former “émigrés” can share their personal experience and position. Therefore, the scholarly part of the Conference will be supplemented by a round table discussion and social gatherings.

The language of the Conference is English and the anticipated Conference Fee is 40 Euros. Abstracts will be required. Submitted papers will be published on the Internet. Some participants will be asked to contribute to the collective monograph that will be published in 2012.

In case of your interest in participation or in getting further materials about the Conference, please send us kindly the following information before January 20 (after this date we will distribute the 1st Circular with more details):

First and last name:
Mailing address or other contact:

Please mark your intentions:
- I wish to obtain more information about the Conference: YES NO
- I intend to participate in the Conference and wish to obtain detailed information and instructions: YES NO
- I will prepare a paper (20-30 minutes) or a short discussion contribution (5-10 mins)

Title of my paper or discussion contribution: .....


Contact (announcement)

Zuzana Nytrova

Centre for the History of Sciences and Humanities
Puskinovo nam. 9, Prague, Czech Republic