MAC FOUNDATION CONFERENCES

2017 OCT / 70th Anniversary of the 1946 London Agreement

Commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the 1946 London Agreement relating to the issue of a travel document for refugees

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October 6, 7, and 8, 2017

All Souls College /Oxford University.

 

At the beginning of this twenty-first century, migrations have become globalized.  The number of international migrants has been estimated at 214 million, a figure that has tripled in forty years.  Almost all the regions of the world are concerned, by the arrival, the departure, or the transit of migrants.  All encounter difficult administrative and judicial situations, often with dramatic consequences, even when they arrive at or find themselves in countries that supposedly have a strong tradition of hospitality.

 

On October 15, 2016, 70 years will have passed since the signing of the London Agreement, whose author was none other than Albert Cohen, the French-speaking Swiss writer born on Corfu, who took refuge in London during the war and who became famous after the publication of his novel Belle du Seigneur.

 

Albert Cohen liked to say that this Agreement was what he was proudest of, even prouder than of his novels and other works.  He certainly had the right to be proud, since this Agreement for the first time in the history of modern law, gave displaced persons a travel document (which he hoped would be as beautiful as the British passport) and also placed refugees and stateless people under the protection of the UN.

 

From 1951 on, this text was subsumed by article 28 of the Geneva Convention.

2011 FEB / ALBERT COHEN SEMINAR  - The writer facing the rule of law

UNIGE

UNIVERSITY OF GENEVA

21th of Feburary, 2011

Albert Cohen's memory is associated with a literary work as important as it is original. Albert Cohen was also a lawyer, who continued his studies at the Faculty of Law in Geneva, where he obtained his license in 1917. This training led him to make a decisive commitment to the protection of the rule of law and, in particular, refugee law. In collaboration with the Mémoire Albert Cohen Foundation, the Faculty of Law wishes to honor the memory of this outstanding personality through the organization of a symposium combining the literary work and the legal approach.

2011 MAY / MEETING - Day of study on figures abroad

SORBONNE UNIVERSITY, Paris

21th of May 2011

For its 21st annual meeting, with the support of the Mémoire Albert Cohen Foundation, the Atelier Albert Cohen organized this year its Study Day with the help of the reception team "Writings of Modernity" (EAC 4400 , CNRS / Paris 3). Already in 2005, the work "A vous, frères Humains" was, at our initiative, the subject of a study day at the Sorbonne whose work led to a publication in the Cahiers de l'Atelier (No. 15).

 

All of Cohen's readers have in mind the figure of Jeremiah and his ancient suitcase stuffed with labels - making it a figure par excellence from abroad. Albert Cohen, himself a Corfiote in exile, a Jew of the diaspora who felt ostracized, despite his social success, by a society that was sometimes fiercely anti-Semitic, was always interested in the fate of foreigners. His hero, Solal, defines himself in a famous formula as "alone, always, a stranger and on a tightrope". In 1946, Cohen had the opportunity to draft, in the course of his duties as legal adviser to the Intergovernmental Committee for Refugees, the text of an agreement relating to the issue to stateless persons of a travel document "more luxurious than the Swiss passport "; he was particularly proud of it.

 

The definition of the foreigner is far from self-evident. It presupposes a homeland, an anchor point (be it a territory, a community, a culture, a nation) in relation to which the otherness of the foreigner can be defined . The relationship with him may be limited, depending on the circumstances, to exclusion and rejection, or to be defined as an enriching openness on all levels. Since the thesis of Daisy Politis, Figure and Role of the Stranger by Albert Cohen (1989), to which we pay tribute by partially reiterating its title, the question has never been so directly addressed.

 

We can look at geographical, cultural or national differences as presented in the work and the conflicts they engender. The League of Nations thus offers a mosaic of nationalities and a reflection on the multinational dimension - legal or diplomatic - of the relationship abroad. The figure of the stateless or pariah recurs in the work recursively, from Christ of Jewish Words to Jeremiah or Finkelstein, in a historical context, that of the inter-war period, which is likely to exacerbate opposition and xenophobic feelings. The story of the creation of the Jewish state can also be read in filigree in Cohen's novels - which long accompanied the Zionist movement.

 

Strangeness can also take on a religious form and appear in relationships between communities. Cohen's work recurs many times on the great oppositions between paganism and Judaism, or between Judaism and Christianity, even between the religions of the antinature (Judaism and Christianity) and the cult of nature (the paganism). The mythical figure of the wandering Jew thus combines religious strangeness and geographical strangeness, not to mention the temporal shift that it implies. In a last sense, the stranger can finally be inside or unconscious. Solal's internal divisions between the Jew (Oriental) and the French (Western), between Don Juan despising women and Tristan ready to die of love are all figures of duplication. All figures of the other, including the interior, are thus likely to be foreign. The female continent appears to Solal particularly disturbing and incomprehensible, especially since he feels closer to it. The presence of the animal in man, the cruel instincts that religion and civilization have never stopped repressing, finally reveal the irreducible strangeness of humans to themselves.

2010 / E SYMPOSIUM

The Mémoire Albert Cohen Foundation launched on May 3, 2010 on its website an "e-conference" on "The major challenges of the rule of law and the protection of the rights of foreigners". This virtual colloquium brings together leading personalities from high jurisdictions and academics from the different "homelands" of Albert Cohen, the writer and diplomat: France, Switzerland and Greece.

 

The Foundation has chosen this innovative format of the "e-symposium" (free and accessible to all) to open the debates to a wide audience and for a period of time allowing everyone to express themselves and react to different interventions. Six new articles have been online since January 2011.

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