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Placeless People

Writings, Rights, and Refugees

Lyndsey Stonebridge


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In 1944 the political philosopher and refugee, Hannah Arendt wrote: 'Everywhere the word 'exile' which once had an undertone of almost sacred awe, now provokes the idea of something simultaneously suspicious and unfortunate.' Today's refugee 'crisis' has its origins in the politicaland imaginativehistory of the last century. Exiles from other places have often caused trouble for ideas about sovereignty, law and nationhood. But the meanings of exile changed dramatically in the twentieth century. This book shows just how profoundly the calamity of statelessness shaped modern literature and thought. For writers such as Hannah Arendt, Franz Kafka, W.H. Auden, George Orwell, Samuel Beckett, Simone Weil, among others, the outcasts of the twentieth century raised vital questions about sovereignty, humanism and the future of human rights. Placeless People argues that we urgently need to reconnect with the moral and political imagination of these first chroniclers of the placeless condition.

Oxford University Press, USA, 9780198797005, 272pp.

Publication Date: December 25, 2018

About the Author

Lyndsey Stonebridge is Professor of Humanities and Human Rights at University of Birmingham. Her books include: The Judicial Imagination: Writing after Nuremberg (2011/2014), winner of the British Academy Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, The Destructive Element (1998), Reading Melanie Klein (with John Phillips, 1998), The Writing of Anxiety (2007), and British Fiction after Modernism (with Marina MacKay, 2007). She is currently writing a short book on Literature and Human Rights for OUP's Literary Agendas series, and collaborating on a large interdisciplinary project, Refugee Hosts.