Intellectuals in exile: a humanism without borders

Second edition of the lecture series
Sculpture du voyageur de Bruno Catalano

Exile has never spared intellectuals. In the twentieth century, and right up to the present day, it has even been one of the usual conditions for the life of the mind. But while it forces thought and creation to take a break, it also sometimes leads them to flourish elsewhere, or even to be nourished by this situation of loss and constraint.

The series of lectures entitled "Intellectuals in exile: a humanism without borders" seeks to highlight the complexity of these intellectual trajectories and their importance for the renewal of thought and democracy.

Each conference is organised around one or more exiled intellectuals, most often hosted at the FMSH or the EHESS. Along with the specialists invited to present them, these intellectuals represent a wide range of backgrounds, including their country of origin, their preferred discipline, and the period and conditions of their exile.

This series of conferences is the fruit of more than ten years of collaboration based on shared values, such as support for democracy and human rights. It has been organised on the initiative of Álvaro Vasconcelos by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation and the Fondation Maison des sciences de l'homme (FMSH).

February-June 2024 programme

20 February | Family exile: Bassma Kodmani


  •  Salam Kawakibi, Director of CAREP Paris
  • Hala Kodmani, journalist
  •  Brigitte Curmi, Ambassador for Syria
  • Ambassador Michel Duclos, special advisor, Institut Montaigne

Bassma Kodmani was a Franco-Syrian intellectual and the author of a remarkable work on democracy in the Arab world. Exiled to France with her family, Bassma Kodmani was intensely involved in the fight for freedom in her native country. Many families in the Middle East have found in exile the conditions to bring up their children in an atmosphere of freedom. The multiplicity of identities of the children of exiles is an enormous asset for host countries and an essential component of our common humanity.

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19 March | The exile of French intellectuals


  • Laurent Jeanpierre, political scientist, Université Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne

During the Second World War, with the occupation of France, many French intellectuals took refuge in New York, including Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, André Breton, Pierre and Hélène Lazareff and Claude Lévi-Strauss. His presence in New York had an enormous impact on American intellectual life, as well as on his own creative work, thanks to his contacts with American scientific and artistic currents. It is this extraordinary intellectual and artistic adventure, this mutual fertilisation, that will be the focus of our debate, reminding us that the question of exile is a universal theme.

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23 April | Mário Soares: the exile of a pro-European democrat


  • Isabel Soares, Mário Soares Foundation
  • Edgar Morin, sociologist and philosopher
  • Guilherme d'Oliveira Martins, Gulbenkian Foundation administrator
  • Cristophe Araújo, University of Paris Nanterre

25 April 2024 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Carnation Revolution, which put an end to 48 years of dictatorship and colonial empire and triggered a wave of democracy in Europe and around the world. Mário Soares (1924-2017), twice Prime Minister and President of the Republic, was the central figure in Portugal's democratic transition and new European destiny. Like thousands of opponents of the dictatorship, he lived in exile in Paris (1969-1974). Through this major figure in the opposition to Portugal's dictatorial regime, we want to reaffirm the ideals of freedom and equality of the Portuguese April democratic revolution, pay tribute to all Portuguese exiles in France and to the hospitality received in this host country.

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21 May | Exile and anti-colonial solidarity: Mário Pinto de Andrade and Sarah Maldoror


  • Annouchka de Andrade, together with her sister Henda Ducados, is developing projects to promote, preserve and safeguard the work of Sarah Maldoror and Mario de Andrade.
  • Lívia Apa, Centre for African Studies, University of Naples "L'Orientale".
  • Egídia Souto, Sorbonne Nouvelle University, Paris 3

Moderated by Álvaro de Vasconcelos

Along with other figures from the former Portuguese colonies, such as Viriato da Cruz and Marcelino dos Santos, Mário Pinto de Andrade chose to go into exile in Paris in the 1950s, at a time when the French capital was a crossroads for many people who, like him, saw anti-colonialism as a cultural and political practice. This explains his work as editor-in-chief of the magazine Présence Africaine and his role in organising the First Congress of Black Writers and Artists in Paris in 1956.

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18 June | Hannah Arendt, an exiled intellectual in desexile in the 20th century


Marie-Claire Caloz-Tschopp, former professor of philosophy and political theory at the universities of Lausanne and Geneva and former programme director at the Collège international de philosophie
• Discussant: Valeria Wagner (University of Geneva)

Moderator: Álvaro de Vasconcelos

Hannah Arendt is an example of the epistemology of exile invented by exiles from a long and rich tradition. The conference will draw on the life of Hannah Arendt and her work on global exile in the 19th-20th and early 21st centuries, with millions of stateless people crossing borders to escape mass extermination and enforced disappearance.

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The organisers

Since its creation, the Maison des sciences de l'homme has worked to promote constant dialogue between intellectuals from all countries, including those whose voices were in danger of being stifled at home by political constraints. Today, the FMSH continues this commitment to academic freedom through its support programmes.

For the Portuguese, France and Paris were a land of asylum during the years of dictatorship. These conferences will also be an opportunity to recognise the importance of this hospitality in the reconquest of democracy.

Not since the Second World War has the affirmation of a humanism without borders been so urgent. The FMSH and the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation are committed to this project, in which experiences of hospitality in the past echo the importance of hospitality today.

First edition of the lecture series "Intellectuals in exile: a humanism without borders"

chercheurs en exil

Cycle de conférences

Parcours d’intellectuels en exil : un humanisme sans frontières
Published at 30 January 2024