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Times and Places of Liminality in the Emigration Process
Speaker: Joachim Schlör (University of Southampton); comment: Leora Auslander (University of Chicago)

This is the first lecture in the series “In Global Transit: Exploring Migrants’ Liminal Spaces and Phases,” organized by Simone Lässig, Carolin Liebisch-Gümüş, and Swen Steinberg.

Much of Joachim Schlör's recent work has been based on German-Jewish family letters. Written between 1933 and 1941, during the process of emigration from Germany to a wide range of places “irgendwo auf der Welt”, the letters themselves – as well as, of course, their content – form part of a condition of in-between-ness. With his background in ethnography, Joachim Schlör adds a cultural-historical perspective to the fields of Jewish Studies and Migration Studies and reads the sources as elements of a cultural practice: The ‘home world’ has become unbearable, and people prepare for their emigration. The ‘course of these days’ is insecure and, for good or for bad, open. After leaving a certain ‘here’, and before arriving in a different ‘there’, emigrants found themselves in waiting rooms and at border control stations, in trains and aboard ships. In many sources, this liminal status produced different modes of reflection about the past, the future, and the state in which they found themselves - in the words of Robert Weltsch: "Where are we standing? Where are we headed? What eternal values do we recognize?” (“Zwischen Alter und Neuer Welt. Jüdische Rundschau, 26.3.1934). Joachim Schlör asks whether this transitory experience has also created a transitory state of mind.

Jun 8, 2022 12:00 PM in Eastern Time (US and Canada)

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