Ex Oriente Lux: Emigré Culture in Interwar France – 1-2 September 2023

Ex Oriente Lux: Emigré Culture in Interwar France is a two-day conference taking place at Queen Mary University of London, 1-2 September 2023. This event has been organised by LAHP-funded QMUL student Isabel Jacobs, with fellow QMUL student Veselina Dzhumbeva, and supported by the LAHP Student-Led Activities Fund, QMUL, and the British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES).

The event is fully hybrid. No registration is needed to join either in person in London or via Zoom.

If joining in person, both days of the conference will be held at the Maths Lecture Theatre, School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Campus, Mile End Road, London E1 4NS. Full details, including the schedule for the two days, can be found in the conference programme.

If joining online, the Zoom details can also be found in the conference programme.

If you have any questions about the event, please email emigreconference@gmail.com  

About the conference:

In the 1920-30s, France was a transnational laboratory of ideas, with Paris hailed as the capital of modernity. However, new intellectual and artistic trends were often imported by immigrants, many of them from Central and Eastern Europe. After Berlin declined as a diasporic capital in the early 1930s, thousands of Eastern Europeans settled in Paris. The influx of innovative currents of thought (Marxism; phenomenology; existential thought) and artistic avant-gardes (Dadaism; Futurism; Surrealism) from Central and Eastern Europe radically shifted cultural life in France between the wars. The significance of Paris as the capital of Russians who fled the Revolution and Civil War is relatively well-explored. However, scholarship on the migration and forceful displacement of Eastern Europeans has gained new urgency following Russia’s war on Ukraine. With this international conference, we want to give a voice to émigrés who have remained so far in the marginalised space beyond all canons, excluded from both the history of French and Soviet letters.  

Many of the émigré networks, journals and institutions of interwar Paris are still relatively little explored, especially when it comes to the contemporary relevance of women or non-Russophone authors in exile. So-called “Russian Montparnasse” was in fact the home of other émigrés from Central and Eastern Europe, many of them Jewish. This diasporic “archipelago” was by no means unified, especially concerning aesthetics and political affiliation. Hosted at Queen Mary’s School of Languages, Linguistics and Film, our International Conference has a cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scope. Our event is of interest to graduate students and scholars in comparative literature, art history, Eastern European, Central Asian and Caucasian studies, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, Jewish studies, modern history, French studies, migration studies, among other disciplines. 

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