Exiles and refugees in contemporary times: experiences and representations

International Congress Walter Benjamin 2022
  • The current edition of the colloquium proposes an analysis of the continuities, ruptures and challenges posed by historical and more recent exiles throughout some of the main contributions made by literature and art during the great exiles of the 20th century (and significantly the Republican exile of 1939).
  • The congress also aims to establish a connection and make a comparison with witnesses who have lived through the current exiles. 

Free registration: Until November 15, 2022 at [email protected] and [email protected]


Exile is a historical constant, and the most poignant present keeps reminding us of it. The Ukrainian exile has joined those that still affect thousands of people today, such as the Syrian, Palestinian or Kurdish exiles, to name only the most well-known among us.

Certainly, the 20th century was a particularly intense time, and it is not daring to say that, in an international consideration, it was in this century that there were more exiles than ever before. One tendency that seems to be maintained in our 21st century as well.

The dimension acquired by contemporary exiles has motivated it to be an experience shared by many people and to have generated a reflection on the same unusual phenomenon in previous centuries. Exile has become a circumstance of contemporaneity. And Walter Benjamin has become an emblematic reference of our historical moment.

The reflection on exile has gone beyond the realm of philosophy and political thought to encompass the fields of literature and art in a very significant way. The list of authors and works, in one hypothetical universal “library of exiles” is immense and has taken shape in a multitude of languages. The same has happened in the field of the rest of the arts, where creators have had to forge their work in exile.

Beyond reputable and widely known names, we have a large amount of oral and written testimonies from people who were also affected by it (and who drew their own conclusions about the phenomenon). This extraordinary proliferation of voices from all social spheres and of all conditions is also a novelty of the contemporary era that allows us to have a first-rate historical (and sometimes also artistic) source.


Thursday, November 17

  • Venue: Hall of Degrees of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Girona

Opening session

5:00 p.m.
Institutional presentations
Democratic Memorial, Exile Memorial Museum, Walter Benjamin Chair (UdG) and EUROM (UB)

5.30 pm
Keynote speech
Refugees, past and present: continuities, ruptures and challenges, by Javier Rodrigo (UAB)

7.00 pm
Book presentation
Volver a Stalingrado. The Eastern Front in European memory (1945-2021)
, by Xosé Manoel Núñez Seixas, winner of the V Edition of the International Walter Benjamin Memorial Award, 2020-2021. Dialogue with Maximiliano Fuentes (Director of the Walter Benjamin Chair, Memory and Exile, UdG)

Friday, November 18

  • Venue: Hall of Degrees of the Faculty of Arts of the University of Girona

10 a.m.
Intellectuals, exiles and migrations in 20th century Europe, Mercedes Monmany (Writer)

12 p.m.
Concentration camps, art and exiles, M. Lluïsa Faxedas (Art Historian, UdG) in conversation with Enric Pujol (Historian, UAB professor and Director of MUME)

4 p.m.
Exiles and literature, Xavier Pla (UdG) talks with Antoni Martí Monterde (UB)

5:30 p.m.
Round table From exiles to refugees
Presentation of the European project So Close. Moderator: Ainoha Flecha (UAB). Participants: Magda Fytili (UAB) and Ana Pérez-Muelas (MUME)

Saturday, November 19

8.00 am
Walking route from Banyuls to Portbou in tribute to Walter Benjamin.

This route will be coordinated by the artist Azucena Momo, who carries out the project Transportar les veus. She investigates the conversations that are generated when you walk, alone or accompanied. Conversations that are activated from the body, a body in motion and therefore a radial and porous body that absorbs everything around it and inserts itself into the landscape and the different atmospheres it passes through. The project has been carried out with the collaboration of the Contemporary Creation Center Nau Côclea de Camallera.

Duration of the journey: between 6 and 7 hours

Registration: Until November 15, 2022 at [email protected]

Meeting point: Portbou Tourism Office
Passeig Lluís Companys s/n.
Free transfer to departure point.

4:30 p.m.
Visit to Dani Karavan’s Memorial Passages to Walter Benjamin and the Portbou cemetery, by the MUME Educational Service.
Registration: until November 15, 2022 at [email protected]
Meeting point: Portbou Tourism Office. Passeig Lluís Companys s/n

6:00 p.m.
Theatre play
Return to the way of La Retirada

Direction and screenplay: Marcela Terra
Acting: Padi Padilla
Sala La Congesta
Carrer Méndez Núñez, 20

Free entry with ticket reservation.
Reservations: Until November 15, 2022 at [email protected]

Walter Benjamins 2022


Nov 17-19, 2022
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