Background Knowledge: Interrogating Perceptions of Smugglers with Joseph Roth

Allison Schmidt makes a case for not prejudging people smugglers in history or the testimony they left behind in state police records. Drawing on the suggestive observations of Joseph Roth, her example centers on Eastern and Central Europe in the interwar period, after the breakup of empires had changed the legal status and economic situation of many people. (1,547 words)

Refuge and Refuse: Migrant Knowledge and Environmental Education in Germany

Joela Jacobs observes that “Migrant knowledge figures as a category of absence” in Europe. In Germany, one core issue is knowledge about recycling requirements and expectations. Efforts to teach it “betray an unreflective understanding of cultural identity”: knowing how to separate one’s trash serves as a marker of who belongs. (1,450 words)

Migration, Creativity, and the Construction of Knowledge

Benjamin Hein reflects on the nature of knowledge and knowledge formation in connection with a German migrant to North America in the mid-nineteenth century. What did it mean that this man, Christian Bönsel, could brag that he had been able to "learn and see how it goes in the world"? (1,455 words)

Following the Archives: Migrating Documents and their Changing Meanings

Nick Underwood reflects on how files he had expected to find in Paris for his study of Franco-Yiddishness during the interwar period had, in fact, migrated elsewhere. He uses his surprise to discuss the part played by rescued or stolen documents in "the migratory history of knowledge and knowledge-making." (2,015 words)