New Trends Abroad
‘Women in Exile’ Research in Germany
German ‘Exile Studies’ dealing with the Nazi era (1933-1945) began in earnest in the late 1960s. At the end of the 1980s Exile Studies scholars called for a gender perspective and a special study group, ‘Frauen im Exil’ (‘Women in Exile’) was established within the ‘Gesellschaft für Exilforschung e.V.’ (‘Society for Exile Studies’). This paper reviews 25 years of activity of the study group which has played the central role in ‘Women in Exile’ research. ‘Frauen im Exil’ annual meetings were held beginning in 1991. In the five years 1991-1995, the group focused on recovering exile experiences and the everyday life of women, issues that had been neglected until then. During this period the original goal of information gathering was to some extent achieved; since 1996 the group has set annual research themes. Between 1996 and 2006 efforts were made to overcome the stereotyping of female exiles; for example themes included ‘Women in Soviet exile’ or ‘Female musicians who were persecuted during the Nazi era.’ Another major concern was ‘the ethics of memory in practice: transmitting persecution experiences and exile experiences;’ under this theme efforts were made to deal with the problem of memory and its transmission. Since 2007 the results of the annual convention have been published as a series of books on “Frauen und Exil” (“Women and Exile”).This series uses biography as a research method, and includes exile research focused on occupational groups, and attention to life after exile, including remigration. Of particular interest has been the discussion of the social worker as a ‘feminine’ profession, particularly in its treatment of the relationship of exile and professional ethos. Through these activities, exile research from a gender perspective has won a position within Exile Studies; currently, the study group is exploring new directions.