Research on the Leading Edge

The Hall Center will provide copies of Zahra's book, The Great Departure, in advance of her visit to be read prior to the event by KU faculty and graduate students. Please RSVP to this event by February 15 at and confirm that you wish to attend and would like a copy of the book.

The next scholar to participate in Research on the Leading Edge will be Tara Zahra, Professor of East European History, University of Chicago, who will lead a discussion on her book The Great Departure: Mass Migration from Eastern Europe and the Making of the Free World (Norton, 2016). The book explores how debates about and experiences of emigration shaped competing ideals of freedom in Eastern Europe and "the West" over the course of one hundred years. After the Second World War, the "captivity" of East Europeans behind the Iron Curtain came to be seen as a quintessential symbol of Communist oppression. The Iron Curtain was not, however, built overnight in 1948 or 1961. Its foundation was arguably laid before the First World War, when Austrian Imperial officials began a century-long campaign to curtail emigration in the name of demographic power and humanitarian values.

This workshop is part of “Research on the Leading Edge,” which will bring visiting scholars to campus who have published, or who are working upon, research that is boundary shifting within the humanities and humanistic social sciences. No formal presentation will be given by the guest scholar. A panel of KU faculty members will critique the book, prior to the author’s response and a general discussion.

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