Archives in/of Transit: Historical Perspectives from the 1930s to the Present


Los Angeles, 28-29 June 2024

This workshop will explore new ways of thinking about archives, archival records, and other artifacts historians might use as primary sources to gain deeper insight into the history of migrants in transit and the knowledge they possessed, produced, transmitted, or lost. With a starting point in the history of Jewish migration from National Socialist-occupied areas, the workshop broadens out to investigate the experiences of refugees and migrants fleeing genocide, armed conflict, and persecution throughout the twentieth century.

Archives in/of Transit: Historical Perspectives from the 1930s to the Present

The workshop is focused on migrants in the situation of transit: How do their letters, photographs, and other artifacts communicate their experiences both to their contemporary and future generations? How can we reframe personal documentation, visual (re)sources, artifacts, and other material culture of migrants as sites of knowledge production? What role do archives play in allowing us to ask and address these questions? And what happens to the “archive” in contexts of transoceanic forced migration, such as the Holocaust? How does migration challenge concepts of archival materiality and fixity and, further, how have the “material turn” and the new interest in soundscapes and the digital age not only complicated but also enhanced our research?


June 28, 2024
Location: USC Shoah Foundation Offices

8:30 am – 9:15 am Registration / Coffee and pastries

9:15 am Welcome
Jennifer Rodgers (USC Shoah Foundation)
Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Washington)

9:30 -11.30am Panel 1: Silence and Experience

Phi Nguyen (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne): Where Did the Boats Go? Silenced Tales of Vietnamese Repatriated Refugees from Hong Kong
Atina Grossmann (Cooper Union, New York): What Remains of the “In-Between”: Tracing Experience and Afterlife of Refuge in the Orient

Chair: Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Washington)

11.30-12.30pm Lunch

12.30-1.30pm Archives session (Feuchtwanger Memorial Library, University of Southern California, Los Angeles)

1.30-3pm Panel 2: Knowledge and Networks

Eliyana Adler (Penn State University): Networks of Knowledge: Polish Jewish Holocaust Memorial Books as Archives in/of Transit
William Pimlott (Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London): YIVO’s Foreign Sections: Building Transnational Immigrant History Before, During and After the Holocaust

Chair: Swen Steinberg (Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario)

3-3.30 pm Break

3.30-5.00 Panel 3: Music and Fashion

Svenja Bethke (University of Leicester): Making Clothes, Designing Fashion: Jewish Migrant Knowledge between Nazi-Occupied Europe and the British Mandate for Palestine
Andrea Orzoff (New Mexico State University, Las Cruces): Music as Migrant Archive: European Musical Refugees in Latin America, 1935-1945

Chair: Dan Stone (Holocaust Research Institute, Royal Holloway, University of London)

7pm Reception at the Thomas Mann House, Discussion with Julia Frank (Thomas Mann Fellow) and Andrea Orzoff

June 29, 2024
Location: Villa Aurora

10:00-10:30 Coffee and pastries

10.30-12.30am Panel 4: Solidarity, Gender, and Activism

Christopher Neumaier (Leibniz Centre for Contemporary History, Potsdam): Gender Roles in Transit: Impact of Immigrant Background on Work and Housekeeping in West Germany, 1970s–1990s
Tori Martinez (Linköpings Universitet): Lost Knowledge in a Hidden Archive: Ludwika Broel-Plater’s Agency and Activism as a Forced Migrant in Sweden
Robert Andrejczyk (Józef Piłsudski Museum, Sulejówek): Refugees in Need – Museum in Action. Case Study of Józef Piłsudski Museum in Sulejówek

Chair: Jane Freeland (Queen Mary, University of London)

12.30-1.30pm Lunch

1.30-2.30pm Tour of the Villa Aurora

2.30-4pm Panel 5: Collections and Agency

Charlotte Lerg (Ludwig Maximillian University, Munich): When Libraries Take Flight. Migrating and Re-assembling Destructed Archives of Cultural Knowledge in Times of War
Miriam Chorley-Schulz (University of Oregon, Eugene): The Making of the We Refugees Archive

Chair: Jennifer Rodgers (USC Shoah Foundation)

4-4.15pm Break

4.15-5.45pm Panel 6: War and Violence

Elissa Mailänder (Science Po, Paris): The Archives in our Attics: Material Hermeneutics of Vernacular Wehrmacht Photography
Jadzia Biskupska (Sam Houston State University, Huntsville): Settlers, Partisans, and Expellees: Framing the Consequences of the SS Colony in Zamość

Chair: Christine Schmidt (Wiener Holocaust Library, London)

5.45-6pm Final discussion

Chairs: Jennifer Rodgers, Simone Lässig and Swen Steinberg