Migrations and Revolutions: The Paradoxes of Return


Migrations and Revolutions: The Paradoxes of Return

This workshop will address the issue of return in revolutionary context, as a paradoxical experience of 'estrangement' in the face of the same. Revolutions bring about upheaval and migration flows. They lead to the return of those who have emigrated, from all sides, and also to cultural, social or political reconstruction.

To approach this issue, it is critical to observe that the return home is the return to something else. The homecomers can never be what they were when they left. Neither home remains the same: they return to the sameness and the otherness at once.

In particular, the French revolution led to substantial migratory movements, which continued during the Empire. Progressively, these migrants returned between the Revolutionary years themselves and the Restoration (1815–1830). These returns were decisive moments in the construction of post-revolutionary France, to the extent that returning to revolutionised France became one of the main paradigms of social reconstitution, political reconstruction and aesthetic and intellectual renewal.

Instead of focusing on exiles and migrations, we will discuss the way in which literature writes and thinks the paradoxical experience of ‘return’, a concept subsuming two further notions: repetition and reconstruction.


  • Professor Jean-Marie Roulin
    Professor Jean-Marie Roulin, Professor of Literature