CFP Transformed by Emigration: Welcoming Russian Intellectuals, Scientists and Artists (1917–1945)

February 11-13, 2019, Hans Belting Library, Czech Republic


Ivan Foletti, Universities of Brno and Ca’ Foscari Venice

Adrien Palladino, Universities of Brno and Fribourg

Between 1917 and the 1930s, in the wake of the October Revolution and the Russian Civil War, many Russian intellectuals, scientists and artists had to emigrate to a variety of European countries, as well as to America, Asia and the Middle East.

The general population of these émigrés was mainly composed of young men, some of them with very high degrees of education. It is not by chance that the newly-born country of Czechoslovakia decided, at the very beginning of its existence, to welcome intellectuals in particular, in order to contribute to the construction of a new Russian intellectual, scientific and artistic elite. The Russian Action in Czechoslovakia is only one example alongside other national and international aid programmes that assisted to the construction of a new and important network uniting Prague, Berlin, New York, Paris, Istanbul and other key cities around the globe. However, the paths of other émigrés were much more difficult, leading them to experience violence, poverty, exclusion and humiliation.

Emerging from the traumatic experience of emigration, perceived at first as provisional but becoming in many cases definitive, Russian émigrés had to find their place in a world outside Russia. This loss transformed their lives, as is evident from many of their personal profiles as well as in their literary and scientific production. In recent years, for example, the effect of theories about Eurasianism on literature, art history and linguistics has been investigated. It has been argued that theories like this – sometimes resulting from the émigré experience – had a deep impact on the development of various fields.

The aim of this conference is to expand the discussion, through an investigation of this phenomenon in the most interdisciplinary way possible. Specifically, the impact of Russian emigration on hard and soft sciences, as well as the arts, will be explored. The main input is therefore not to focus only on individual stories, but to reflect on how this newly established dialogue transformed the world. Special attention will therefore be given to the particularities of the Russian émigrés’ experience as well as the manner in which existing communities were able to integrate with the new arrivals, acquiring their specific knowledge and perceptions. In sum, the aim of this conference is to reflect on the life-changing effects of elite emigration on the national and supranational structures receiving them. And, in turn, the métisse identity of the integrated migrants becoming one of the cornerstones of a new civilisation. Participants are invited to reflect on issues such as the historiography of the sciences, artistic production, from visual arts and literature to theatre and movie-making, interdisciplinary approaches within a particularly broad geographical frame.

The organization will provide accommodations for all participants; additionally, partial or complete funding is available to support travel expenses.


Contact Info: 

Paper proposals of no more than one page, accompanied by a short CV, can be submitted until 21 June 2018 to: and

Contact Email:


Call for papers

Deadline: June 21, 2018

Posted: May 30, 2018