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'Licentious girls' and frontier domesticators

Women and Siberian exile from the late 16th to the early 19th centuries

Andrew A. Gentes

This article aims at filling the historiographical gap of the part played by women in the early Siberian exile system. The state exploited both their bodies and labour, forcing them to be sexual pacifiers and producers of babies as well as 'frontier domesticators' in general. First sent in the late sixteenth century, their numbers increased after the Ulozhenie of 1649, which largely replaced the death sentence with exile. Further important stages in development were marked by Peter the Great as part of his construction of a service state and by Catherine the Great using Siberia for the purposes of expanding the population and removing schismatics. By the end of the eighteenth century, just over 50 per cent of more than half a million Russians living in Siberia's rural areas were women, both exiles and 'volunteers'. The article concludes that the treatment of such women impeded later Russian efforts to create a healthy society.

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Chaos in Siberia

New Scholarship on Exile in the Late Russian Empire

Jeffrey S. Hardy

This essay reviews new books by Sarah Badcock, Daniel Beer, and Andrew Gentes on Siberian exile in the long nineteenth century. Based on a wealth of memoirs and archival documents, all three studies shed new light on the aims, practices, and lived experience of exile, with Beer providing a broad overview and Gentes and Badcock focusing on specific episodes. Meticulously researched and well written, the books demonstrate the chaotic nature of exile, with corruption, violence, and the nature of the exiles themselves contributing to the system’s failures to achieve its often-conflicting goals. More context in terms of Siberian development and the Russian penal system and greater theoretical and comparative perspective would have further strengthened these important new books.

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Andrew A. Gentes

This article presents a first step towards creation of a demographic analysis of Siberia's exilic population during the nineteenth century. The article makes the argument that traditional Russian attitudes towards children were reflected on a macroscopic scale in the state's treatment of the children of criminals and other deviants deported and exiled to Siberia and the Russian Far East. The article uses a statistical approach as well as anecdotal materials to suggest some of the possible impacts the deportation of tens of thousands of children had on the later history of Russia.

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Hope and Sorrow of Displacement

Diasporic Art and Finding Home in Exile

Mediya Rangi

Rushdi Anwar is a Kurdish artist in exile who references his personal experiences of genocide, situated within the modern history of his homeland, Kurdistan, to reflect on the region’s sociopolitical issues. His conceptual art demonstrates that exilic consciousness may be articulated and continuously developed through diasporic artistic expressions. Rushdi’s artwork installation ‘Irhal [Expel] – Hope and Sorrow of Displacement’ (2014–2015) aims to draw attention to the commonalities of human experience by narrating the journey from sorrow to hope. It invites audiences to understand displacement from a common perspective, the search for a safe home. Through a Deleuzian lens, this article explores Rushdi’s nomadic journey by looking at his diasporic artwork that connects the Australian context with the global crisis of conflict and displacement.

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Embodying Exile

Trauma and Collective Identities among East Timorese Refugees in Australia

Amanda Wise

Some of the more interesting and useful work on diasporic and transnational identities has emanated from scholars working in cultural studies and contemporary anthropology. However, with a few notable exceptions, little attention has been paid to the specific experiences of refugee diasporas, and in particular, to the role of trauma and embodiment in the creation of these ‘moral communities.’ Based on research with the East Timorese diaspora in Australia, this article looks at the performative dimensions (protests, church rituals, singing, and dancing) of the diaspora’s political campaign for East Timor’s independence. I consider how the bodily dimensions of this protest movement contributed to certain formations of identity, belonging, and exile, within the Timorese community. In particular, I explore how these performative strategies have created a context for ‘retraumatizing’ bodies and memories, channeling them into a political ‘community of suffering,’ in turn contributing to a heightened sense of the morality of an exilic identity among many Timorese.

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Gunnar Thorvaldsen

Swedish troops were the first major group of foreigners to be exiled to Siberia. This article overviews their early eighteenth century diaspora, particularly their livelihoods, religiosity and terms of imprisonment, their relations with Russian citizens and authorities, and their potential contributions to the development of Asian Russia. It builds primarily on Swedish secondary and primary sources such as the officers' diaries, and to some extent on the much scarcer Russian historiography.

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Out of Exile

Some Thoughts on Exile as a Dynamic Condition

Eva Hoffman

Exile is a strong marker of identity for a writer, but to keep it forever as part of one's self-image surely involves a kind of mis-description, or at least over-simplification. Maintaining the position of being in exile also has its dangers: the posture of detachment can turn into a kind of wilful separation. Moreover migration, dislocation, various kinds of nomadism are becoming the norm, but this extreme mobility relativises even the most stable identities. What styles, or stories, or genres will be invented to describe a world which is no longer divided between peripheries and centres?

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“Completely Useless“

Exiling the Disabled to Tsarist Siberia

Andrew A. Gentes

The ostracizing of mentally and physically disabled individuals is a cross-cultural phenomenon that amounts to what Henri-Jacques Stiker calls a “murderous system,“ which does not kill such individuals outright, but instead indirectly. This as well as Foucault's notions about the construction of madness and deviancy serve as a departure point for understanding tsarist Russia's murderous system of deporting the disabled to Siberia. This article charts this system's operation over the longue durée, from the midsixteenth to the late nineteenth century; describes the motivations and factors conditioning those powerbrokers who exiled the disabled; and provides data on the number of disabled exiles and describes conditions they faced. I argue that the state's exploitation of the peasantry, the peasantry's inculcation of commodifying economic imperatives, and the availability of Siberia's expanses combined to make Russia's a uniquely murderous system that lasted for centuries.

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“Like Alice through the Looking Glass”

Claude Lévi-Strauss in New York

Vincent Debaene

What were the significance and the impact, for Claude Lévi-Strauss, of his experience as a refugee in New York between May 1941 and December 1944? If one follows Lévi-Strauss's late reconstructions, his exile appears surprisingly as an almost enchanted experience, marked by various encounters (Roman Jakobson, André Breton, Franz Boas), the first contact with North-West Coast Amerindian art, and the discovery of New York, an almost surrealistic city “where anything seemed possible.” Without contesting such an a posteriori reading, this article shows how such a reconstruction has been made possible through a complex reorganization of a traumatizing past. It then appears that the exile, and its remembrance in later texts, played a pivotal role in the development of Lévi-Strauss's anthropological work to come: his experience as a refugee was at the root of his reinvention of symbolism as well as of his reflections on humanity as a whole.

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Les structures d'une pensée d'exil

La formation du structuralisme de Claude Lévi-Strauss

Laurent Jeanpierre

Lévi-Strauss considered that the birth of structuralism was mainly caused by his chance encounter with Roman Jakobson: the experience of war and exile had nothing to do with it. This article contends the opposite. It analyzes, from a sociological perspective, the articles Lévi-Strauss produced in New York in the 1940s. Focusing on political and cultural anthropology through the prism of primitive societies, these texts express in sociological terms Lévi-Strauss's self-representation, his hopes and strategies. He regards war as a moment in a cycle of reciprocal exchanges between groups. He sees power as the product of an ability to serve as an intermediary between groups and group members, and anthropological knowledge as the product of the social distance to groups necessary to compare their cultural models. Levi-Strauss's theories in exile are in affinity with his social position of a broker and intermediary between distant social groups among the French émigrés and between them and the Americans. Between the lines, all these formative texts show the efforts of Lévi-Strauss's consciousness to reverse the negative signs of his condition of exile. They played a role in the birth of structuralism even as they represent Lévi-Strauss's first auto-analysis (before Tristes Tropiques).