Arts Public Lecture X – Walter Benjamin and other illegal immigrants

Date: Wednesday 14th September, 5:30pm for a 6:00pm start.
Venue:Seminar Room 1, State Library of Victoria, Entry 3, La Trobe Street MelbourneProfessor Robert J.C. Young

Join Professor Rae Frances, Dean of Arts and Associate Professor Chandani Lokuge, Director of the Centre for Postcolonial Writing at the tenth Monash Arts Public Lecture with Professor Robert J.C. Young.

Opening address: Professor Rae Frances

Introduction: Associate Professor Chandani Lokuge

The lecture will consider the circumstances of Walter Benjamin’s death as he attempted to smuggle himself across the border from France into Spain in the context of the available route for refugees out of France in 1940. These routes will be compared to earlier and later routes in and out of Europe, demonstrating that contemporary migration into Europe follows paths already well-travelled over the centuries. It will be argued that it was Europe itself which initiated modern mass migration together with the contemporary world of boundaries and borders and that the ‘illegal’ migrants who move across continents today are engaged in new forms of transnational subaltern struggle.

Robert J.C. Young is Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature at New York University, and Distinguished Visiting Scholar in the Centre for Postcolonial Writing, Faculty of Arts.

His White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (1990), Colonial Desire: Hybridity in Culture, Theory and Race (Routledge, 1995), and Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (Blackwell, 2001), have been some of the most influential books in the field of postcolonial studies.

He has also written Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2003), The Idea of English Ethnicity (Blackwell, 2008), and is currently writing a book on translation. Prior to moving to New York, Young was Professor of English and Critical Theory and a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford University. As a graduate student at Oxford, he was one of the founding editors of the Oxford Literary Review, the first British journal devoted to literary and philosophical theory. Young is general editor of the quarterly Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies. His work has been translated into 20 languages.

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