From Exile to Utopia: A Yugoslav Writer’s Return

Lecture | February 25 | 4-6 p.m. | B-4 Dwinelle Hall

 Djordje Popovic, PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota

 Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES), Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

The act of writing assures that exile is never permanent in the mind of the writer even if it is an abiding feature of their reality. Dubravka Ugresic explores this paradox in her essay “The Writer in Exile,” suggesting that what separates the exiled writer from the migrant is the former’s ability to leave her footprints on the cultural map of the world, thus retaining the imprint of her existence. In this talk, I explore the dialectic of permanence and impermanence underlying Ugresic’s idea that the writer in exile experiences a “double exile”— once on account of displacement and a second time because she is forced to reflect on the condition of being
displaced, in effect, staging her alienation in the act of commenting upon it. Were this to be the only point in the writer’s self-reflection, though, it would be quite one-sided. What is more compelling is the fold in Ugresic’s essay that rests on the conception of a “retro-utopia,” a place glimpsed in the unfulfilled past, and a home to which a community based on shared positions, not identity, can return.