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In Exile: Political Emigration from Eastern Europe During the Last Decades of the Cold War

October 26, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

Contrary to the prevalent rhetoric of the Cold War, the 1970s and 1980s were a time of intensive exchange across the “Iron Curtain”. Particularly in the context of the international human rights movement, a Western public grew more interested in the activities and plight of East European opposition groups. East European political exiles in Western Europe and North America played a significant role as intermediaries between East and West. They also provided opposition groups across the Iron Curtain with information, financial aid, and other essential material. They maintained close contact to Western institutions and media. Drawing upon their intimate knowledge of the local languages and the political situation, they contoured Western media coverage and opinion-making related to Eastern Europe. This presentation will focus on three loci of Eastern European emigration (New York City, London, and Vienna), exploring the exiles’ networks as well as the influence that they had on both the opposition groups in the East and the Western public. Particular attention will be paid to intellectual debates and to the everyday practices of exile communities, thus going beyond stories of a handful of well-known émigrés.

To request a copy of the paper, please email

Dr. Sarah Lemmen is a cultural historian of nineteenth and twentieth-century Eastern Europe. Her research interests include concepts of migration and exile, the entanglement of national and global history, the history of travel, and postcolonial studies within an East European context. She has published broadly on these topics, including the co-edited volume on “Orientalisms in East Central Europe” (2015; in German) and the special issue of European Review of History (vol. 6, 2016) on “Transformation in East Central Europe, 1918 and 1989.”

The Carolina Seminar: Russia and Its Emipres, East and West is co-sponsored by the Carolina Seminar Program, the UNC Department of History, and the Center for Slavic, Eurasian, and East European Studies. Please note that the participants will give an overview of their projects, but will not read a formal paper. Instead, papers or book chapters will be circulated ahead of time to those who are interested in attending and participating in the discussion. 


October 26, 2017
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm


FedEx Global Center #3009
301 Pittsboro St
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States
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