Exiles from Hungary, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, 1945-1989

University of Regensburg, Hungarian Institute

Friday-Saturday, November 17-18, 2023

In recent decades, the topic of exile has often fallen outside the focus of migration research, which saw its task, among other things, in undermining narratives of national unity. There was little that could be done with the person who fled his homeland for political reasons and/or expatriated and was bound to it precisely for that reason. However, our current situation shows that the topic of exile has by no means disappeared from the agenda, because in the form of expelled or fled intellectuals from the East Slavic region, corresponding environments are just beginning to re-emerge. Moreover, the widespread juxtaposition of "cosmopolitan" migration studies and "homeland-based" emigration studies is a rather epistemic dispute that prevents a better understanding of the manifold entanglements between migration and emigration.

This conference aims to give new impetus to the study of exile through emigration and to make visible research that deals with the many sources on the history of Hungarian, Czechoslovak, and Yugoslav exile, which are often stored in a decentralized manner and have been little used up to now. By comparing three exile milieus, we hope to better grasp the diversity of the phenomenon. Among other things, we aim to better understand whether and how the nature of the original impulse to flee affected the exile. Yugoslav exile is historically the oldest, its foundation laid as early as 1944/1945, when hundreds of thousands fled the bloody reckoning of communist partisans with their civil war opponents. Many exiles not only held anti-communist views, but were also opposed to the Yugoslav state as such and would have preferred the creation of their own nation-state. Hungarian exile emerged in several waves: at the end of World War II in 1945, after the communist enforced Gleichschaltung in 1948, and then as a result of the suppression of the 1956 uprising, which was directed against communist rule but not at all against the Hungarian nation-state. Czechoslovak exile, which experienced the first postwar anti-Communist wave in 1948, swelled after the end of the Prague Spring in 1968, drawing its impetus from frustration that a different, more humane socialism had been prevented at home.

Starting from these different basic impulses, we will explore the question of the extent to which the exile milieus from the three communist-ruled countries were similar or different. In addition, we want to shed light on the inner plurality of these milieus, which ranged from comparatively closed circles of military and political exile to literary and cultural workers who, as time progressed, only partially saw themselves as exiles. Literary exile, its relationship to language, the concepts of space and time, its thematic and reader circles, probably has a special bridging function here.

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