The conference “Cultures of Exile: Conversations on Language and the Arts,” co-organized by Professors Eleni Bastea and Walter Putnam, was inspired by the music of Georges Moustaki (1934--2013), especially his song “Le Métèque” (1969). In “Le Métèque” Moustaki dealt with outsiders, strangers, and all those who do not share one homogeneous place of origin. What does it mean to be a “métèque,” an exile, an outsider today? Although often associated with loss and victimhood, exile can also foster artistic freedom, creativity, renewal, and empowerment. What is the role of the new place in the development of one’s artistic oeuvre? How does the memory of original sounds, visual images, and physical places inflect one’s creative voice? Many of our New Mexico students have personal experiences of exile and relocation. Through presentations and discussions, we examined how personal and national tales of loss and adversity, transformed through the artist’s medium, can become powerful testimonies of the human condition. The conference brought together over 20 scholars from the US and abroad, and an audience of 60 -70 participants that included UNM students and faculty, community members, and other educators. It addressed the topic of "Exile" from multiple points of view--academic, artistic, literary, autobiographical, philosophical--in a truly international context. Bringing together a range of speakers that included both junior and senior scholars, prominent artists and creative writers, and engendering an environment of both personal and academic reflection led to profound and unique insights and conversations.
Bastéa, Eleni; Walter Putnam; and Mark Forte. "Cultures of Exile: Conversations on Language and the Arts." (2014). http://digitalrepository.unm.edu/arch_fsp/1