A Transatlantic Conversation with Norman Manea on Migration, Globalization, and Exile in a New Phase
On February 22, the Berlin Office of the German Marshall Fund was delighted to host a Transatlantic Conversation with the prize-winning Romanian author Norman Manea, Francis Flournoy professor of European Studies and Culture and writer in residence at Bard College New York. In a conversation moderated by Sumi Somaskanda, anchor at Deutsche Welle, he shared his views on the current refugee crisis which are shaped by his own personal transatlantic migration experience.
Forced to leave communist Romania, Manea migrated to the United States in the late 1980s after a brief stay in West Berlin. His work is marked by his experiences of years in a concentration camp, life under communist dictatorship, and his later exile. The discussion touched on many contentious societal and political aspects of determining an appropriate response to the unprecedented number of refugees and migrants coming to Europe. Manea reminded us of what a tragedy it is to lose your home and heritage, appealing to the EU to adopt a human approach to the crisis and to act in solidarity. While acknowledging the complexity and variety of the issues connected with the European migration crisis, he cast a different light on the experience of exile, describing it as “a school of re-education, confronting you with a new culture, a new history and a chance to try and understand the people”. He also affirmed that the degree of successful integration will affect European societies in years to come.
Held at the GMF Berlin Office, the event was hosted in cooperation with Bard College Berlin and attended by representatives of diverse cultural institutions, academic institutions, embassies and media. GMF Berlin deputy director Sudha David-Wilp welcomed the guests and opened the conversation, which was followed by a Q&A session. The conversation with Mr. Manea represented an important contribution to the current transatlantic debate on migration.