Conference on Foreigners and Outsiders in Modern European Culture


Wednesday, 13 April 2016, 9:15 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
311 Glasscock Building, Texas A&M University

About the Conference →
Schedule →

About the Conference

The current refugee crisis in Europe, the most serious one since the end of World War II, has brought into sharp relief the question of outsiders. How are “foreigners and strangers” perceived and represented in public and private discourses, and in literary and artistic works? What is their juridical status in the countries where they find themselves, either temporarily or seeking more permanent residence? This full-day conference, with speakers from a wide range of disciplines, will explore these and similar questions in historical perspective, focusing on the period from the 1930s to the present.

Conference sponsored by:
Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research
France/Texas A&M University Institute (Centre Pluridisciplinaire)
Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS)
Department of International Studies

Conference Schedule:

All events in room 311 Glasscock Building, unless otherwise noted. 

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

9:1510:00            Breakfast

10:00-12:00          Session 1 • Chair: Apostolos Vasilakis, Instructional Assistant Professor, Department of English, Texas A&M University

Rob Zaretsky (University of Houston): “The View from Bodrum: Herodotus, Aylan Kurdi and Us”

Susan Rubin Suleiman (Harvard University, TIAS Faculty Fellow): “Foreigners and Strangers: Jews in France between the two World Wars”

Atina Grossmann (The Cooper Union): “From Survivor to Displaced Person to ‘Homeless Foreigner’: Refugee Jews in Postwar Germany”

12:00-1:30            Lunch break

1:30-3:30              Session 2 • Chair: TBD

Lia Brozgal (University of California Los Angeles): “Not Quite White, Surely Not Black: Negotiations of Visible Difference in France”

Bob Shandley (Texas A&M University): “The Racialization of Migration Politics in Germany”

Dinah Hannaford (Texas A&M University): “‘Useful Invaders’: Contemporary African Migration to Europe”

3:30-4:00              Coffee & cookie break

4:00-5:00              Artist’s Presentation

Ken Aptekar: Slideshow and discussion of his current art exhibit in Lübeck, Germany, “Nachbarn: Neighbors in a German Town”

5:00-5:30             Wrap-up discussion

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zaretsky_smRobert Zaretsky
Honors Faculty, University of Houston
“The View from Bodrum: Herodotus, Aylan Kurdi and Us”

Robert Zaretsky specializes in French history when not teaching in The Human Situation. His books include Nîmes at War (Penn State University 1995), Cock and Bull Stories: Folco de Baroncelli and the Invention of the Camargue (Nebraska 2004), and with John Scott, The Philosophers’ Quarrel: Rousseau, Hume, and the Limits of Human Understanding (Yale 2009). His most recent books are Albert Camus: Elements to a Life (Cornell 2010) and, with Alice Conklin and Sarah Fishman, France and its Empire Since 1870 (Oxford 2010). His book “A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning” was published in 2013 by Harvard UP. His new book, “Boswell’s Enlightenment,” will be published by Harvard in spring 2015, and he is also writing a book on the friendship between Catherine the Great of Russia and the French philosophe Denis Diderot. Zaretsky is also the history editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books, regular columnist for the Jewish Daily Forward and frequent contributor to the New York TimesBoston GlobeLos Angeles TimesForeign Policy and Chronicle of Higher Education. (Ph.D., University of Virginia).

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suleiman2Susan Rubin Suleiman
C. Douglas Dillon Research Professor of the Civilization of France at Harvard University, 2015-16 Texas A&M University Institute for Advanced Study Faculty Fellow
“Foreigners and Strangers: Jews in France between the two World Wars”

Susan Rubin Suleiman the C. Douglas Dillon Research Professor of the Civilization of France at Harvard University. Considered one of the leading U.S. scholars of twentieth-century French literature, Susan R. Suleiman ranks among the world’s foremost scholars in her field and is considered a leading international scholar of gender and Holocaust studies.

Among her works is the 1983 Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre, one of the most important critical studies on the political novel written over the last four decades.

She received the Radcliffe Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 1990 and a decoration by the French government as an Officer of the Order of Academic Palms (Palmes Académiques) in 1992.

Suleiman is the author or editor of many books and more than one hundred articles on contemporary literature and culture published in the United States and abroad. Her latest book, forthcoming from Yale University Press, is about the Russian-French novelist Irène Némirovsky and issues of “foreignness” in twentieth-century France. Her other books include Crises of Memory and the Second World War (2006); Subversive Intent: Gender, Politics, and the Avant-Garde (1990); Risking Who One Is: Encounters with Contemporary Art and Literature (1994); and the memoir Budapest Diary: In Search of the Motherbook (1996). She has edited and coedited influential collective volumes, including French Global: A New Approach to Literary History (2010) and After Testimony: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Holocaust Narrative for the Future (2012).

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Grossmann_nogamiAtina Grossmann
Professor, Humanities and Social Sciences, The Cooper Union
“From Survivor to Displaced Person to ‘Homeless Foreigner’: Refugee Jews in Postwar Germany”

Atina Grossmann teaches Modern European and German history, and Women’s and Gender Studies. A graduate of the City College of New York (BA) and Rutgers University (MA, Ph.D), she has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, German Marshall Fund, American Council of Learned Societies, Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and the American Academy in Berlin, as well as Guest Professorships at the Humboldt University Berlin and the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena. Her publications include Reforming Sex: The German Movement for Birth Control and Abortion Reform, 1920-1950 (1995), Crimes of War: Guilt and Denial in the Twentieth Century (co-edited; 2002), After the Nazi Racial State: Difference and Democracy in Germany and Europe (2009), and Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany(2007) which was awarded the Fraenkel Prize in Contemporary History from the Wiener Library in London; the George L. Mosse Prize of the American Historical Association (2007), and selected as one of the best books of the year (2008) by the HSKult ListServ in German social and cultural history. Her current research focuses on transnational Jewish refugee stories, “Soviet Central Asia, Iran, and India: Sites of Refuge and Relief for European Jews During World War II.”

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brozgalLia Brozgal
Associate Professor, French & Francophone Studies, University of California Los Angeles
“Not Quite White, Surely Not Black: Negotiations of Visible Difference in France”

Lia Brozgal earned a BA in French from Chatham College and a PhD in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University. Before joining the faculty at UCLA in 2008, she was an appointed lecturer in History and Literature at Harvard University. Her research and teaching encompass a variety of topics in Francophone North African literature, culture and history, as well as contemporary France. She is the author of Against Autobiography: Albert Memmi and the Production of Theory (U Nebraska Press, 2013); co-editor of Being Contemporary: French Literature, Culture and Politics Today (Liverpool UP, 2015); and author of essays on North African literature cinema, beur cultural productions, chronicles of the Holocaust in North Africa, and Judeo-Maghrebi literature and film.

With the support of an American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Fellowship (2015-2016), Professor Brozgal is anticipating the completion of a monograph devoted to the literary and visual representations of the October 17, 1961 massacre of Algerians in Paris.

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BobShandley2Robert Shandley
Professor and Head, Department of International Studies, Texas A&M University
“The Racialization of Migration Politics in Germany”

Robert Shandley has written books on both German postwar film and Hollywood film in the 1950s, as well as American television during the Vietnam War. He has edited volumes on the Goldhagen holocaust debate in Germany, on the fall of the Berlin Wall, and forthcoming on German television. His current work is on the long cultural history of migrants in Germany.

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hannaford-dinahDinah Hannaford
Assistant Professor, Department of International Studies, Texas A&M University
“‘Useful Invaders’: Contemporary African Migration to Europe”

Dinah Hannaford’s research interests include transnational migration; kinship and social change; gender and globalization; the ethnographic study of international development; Europe; and West Africa. Her book manuscript, entitled Marriage Without Borders: Transnational Spouses in Neoliberal Senegal, is currently under review. The book is based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Italy, France and Senegal and examines how neoliberal reforms and global labor restructuring combine with cultural ideologies of masculinity, class and spousal caring to produce a new imperative of mobility for marriage in Senegal. The increase in transnational marriages—or marriages between migrant men living abroad and non-migrant women in Senegal—points to novel understandings of the possible practice of intimate relationships as economic and political pressures combine with technological advances and existing understandings of gender, duty, and desire.

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KenAptekar2017Lo-Res-768x906Ken Aptekar
Slideshow and discussion of his current art exhibit in Lübeck, Germany, “Nachbarn: Neighbors in a German Town”

Ken Aptekar is an artist who combines painting with text. He paints new versions of historical paintings and frames, bolting glass with sandblasted words to his painted panels. Aptekar’s work belongs to the tradition of painting, yet he brings to that tradition a recognition that paintings produce meaning only through their interaction with viewers. He investigates the nature of spectatorship. By “recreating” works of art in a painterly but utilitarian manner, Aptekar promotes viewers’ own narratives prompted by the image-text combinations.

He overlays his own responses to the historical works, too, alongside those of audiences he invites to look at paintings with him in museums. Often his and others’ responses would be considered unorthodox in a traditional museum or gallery setting—the sort you think but don’t say. Yet when engraved in glass and seen in a work of art, the comments lend an encouraging legitimacy to viewers’ own particular responses. In recent years Aptekar has started producing videos in addition to painting. The videos continue his efforts to bring contemporary points of view to the history of art.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, in 1950, Aptekar received his BFA at the University of Michigan, then moved to Brooklyn in 1973 to complete an MFA at Pratt Institute (1975). From February 7 through May 29, 2016, a commissioned solo exhibition, NACHBARN (“NEIGHBORS”), is on view at the St.-Annen Museum in Lübeck, Germany. Previously, his work has been seen in solo exhibitions at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (Washington, DC), Memorial Art Gallery (Rochester, NY), Centro da Cultura Judaica (Sao Paolo, Brazil), Musée Robert Dubois-Corneau (Brunoy, France), Espace d’Art Contemporain Camille Lambert (Juvisy, France), The New Museum (NY), Douglas Cooley Gallery at Reed College in Portland, OR, Palmer Museum at Penn StateCummer Museum (Jacksonville, FL), theContemporary Art Center of Virginia, and the Elaine Jacob Gallery at Wayne State University in Detroit. In 2012 Aptekar’s work was the subject of a survey exhibition, “Ken Aptekar: Look Again,” at theBeard and Weil Galleries, Wheaton College, Massachusetts.

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