4th Conable Conference

“A Vision of Revolution”: Exile and Deportation in Global Perspective


“Exile is a dream of a glorious return. Exile is a vision of revolution: Elba, not St Helena. It is an endless paradox: looking forward by always looking back. The exile is a ball hurled high into the air. ”

― Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses


The 4th Conable Conference examined the long complex and intertwined legacy of exile and deportation. The forced removal of groups from their homelands and the coerced expatriation of individuals operate as two edges of a single political weapon. States and state agents throughout world history have employed deportation and exile. While the articulations of exile have changed over time, it remains relevant today as part of the international political landscape in both its state-sanctioned and self-imposed manifestations. And whereas forced deportations of entire communities clearly breach international law, regional, bilateral, and internal conflicts produce a steady stream of removals. Refugees, fugitives, asylum-seekers, expats, émigrés – the dual artifices of exile and deportation inhabit our lives today in myriad forms.

Historical and contemporary manifestations of exile and deportation constitute aliens/emigrés as illegal and expendable. Today, exile and deportation are situated at the transnational intersection of migration policy and criminal justice. Removal – a common legal euphemism for state-enacted deportation – has emerged as a deceptively benign technique for extricating problematic noncitizens and citizens from national and domestic contexts. The banality of such terms conceals the systemic violence visited on individuals, families, communities, and the very law itself.

Continuing the engaging interdisciplinary analytical tradition begun in 2011, the fourth Conable Conference in International Studies will examine the political dimensions of the intentional employment of deportation and exile in historical, comparative, and contemporary perspective. It seeks to understand the uses and implications of exile and deportation as political tools throughout history, the present, and into the future, across the globe. The conference will focus particularly on the ideological, philosophical, and (il)legal and quasi-legal underpinnings of exile strategies, land dispossession, corporate displacement, and deportation policies, and the consequences of exile and deportation for states, for victims and survivors, and their families, and communities.

A book based on some of the papers presented is currently under peer review.