This book can be described as an 'oblique memoir'. The central underlying and repeated themes of the book are exile and displacement; lives (and deaths) during the Third Reich; mother-daughter and sibling relationships; the generational transmission of trauma and experience; transatlantic reflections; and the struggle for creative expression. Stories mobilised, and people encountered, in the course of the narrative include: the internment of aliens in Britain during the Second World War; cultural life in Rochester, New York, in the 1920s; the social and personal meanings of colour(s). It also includes the industrialist and philanthropist, Henry Simon of Manchester, including his relationship with the Norwegian explorer, Fridtjof Nansen; the liberal British campaigner and MP of the 1940s, Eleanor Rathbone; reflections on the lives and images of spinsters. The text is supplemented and interrupted throughout by images (photographs, paintings, facsimile documents), some of which serve to illustrate the story, others engaging indirectly with the written word. The book also explains how forced exile persists through generations through a family history. It showcases the differences between English and American cultures. The book focuses on the incidence of cancers caused by exposure to radioactivity in England, and the impact it had on Anglo-American relations.
This book is a collective response to one international challenge confronting us, devised during another.
It, too, is a survivor, making its way through a global pandemic, and a local hurricane. Its appearance, at last, would be unthinkable without the support and stick-to-it-ness of many.
Thanks go first to Duke colleagues, who supported it generously over the years: Gennifer Weisenfeld as Dean of the Humanities; Giovanni Zanalda, Director of the Center of International Studies; Sarah Schroth as Director of the Nasher Museum; and Martin Eisner and Richard Rosa, as Chairs of the Department of Romance Studies.
The Trent Foundation awarded funding at a pivotal time as the project began to take shape.
Colleagues at Duke Libraries helped to sustain it in vital ways; Meg Brown giving it more of a public face; Dave Hansen and Haley Walton, advocates for its open access.
Elvira Vilches and Alán José were the rarest of collaborators at an early stage; their commitment to the comparative character of the project ensuring its ongoing life.
Emilie Picherot never failed to share her expertise in Arabic, on the streets of Paris, as in libraries in France.
The students in seminars energized it with their own thinking, translations, and questions, especially Sophie Caplin, Susan Yun, and Cole Zaharris.
The anonymous readers of the manuscript gave us commentaries that helped to strengthen the book, and make it even more responsive to the challenge of migration in our times.
During the COVID-19 winter of 2020 and the summer of 2021, Shreya Hurli was an indispensable ally, proving what steady, shared work can accomplish.
Bryant Holsenbeck, in her inimitable artist-activist's style, helped me to understand fully what it takes to make something new with many creative people.
My first and last thanks go to the contributors. With all the challenges of our COVID-19 years together, they remained committed to their work and our endeavor. A force for good in our world. Vincent Joos and Saskia Ziolkowski made an improbable proposition take real shape at last: a gift. In the ninth hour, Victoria George contributed more to completing this book than the index she prepared.
First, my thanks go to Helen Solterer, who initiated this project long before I came on board as a co-editor. With a true interdisciplinary and collective spirit, and during trying times, Helen kept the project moving in new, creative, and exciting directions. I am grateful for her mentoring and her infinite patience. I want to thank Townsend Middleton and all my colleagues at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill who continue to support and fuel my work on European and US immigration.
Carolina Sanchez Boe's engaged scholarship on immigration is a model of grounded activism. I am grateful for her invaluable feedback and advice.
Martin Munro and Racha Sattati, from the Winthrop King Institute for Contemporary French and Francophone Studies at Florida State University have been generous with their time and support. Many thanks to Preston McLane and to the team of the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts for supporting our collective work.
A heartfelt thank you to all the contributors. Their vision and open-mindedness made this project not only possible, but also urgent and important.
Helen Solterer & Vincent Joos
Durham, North Carolina; Tallahassee, Florida