This project, lying on the margins of academic research and art, is the result of a collaboration between Pascale Laborier and Pierre-Jérôme Adjedj. It stems from their dialogue on the representation of scholar exiles and drew on the contributions of the people photographed. An outline project was presented at a conference on this topic at the Marc Bloch Centre in Berlin in June 2018 (Endangered Scholars and Rescue Policies: Recent Research and Future Prospects, organized by Catherine Gousseff, Pascale Laborier and Leyla Dakhli).
For the photo session, people could contribute by bringing four items with biographical significance: photos of the country of origin and the host country, area of research, and personal history. Pierre-Jérôme Adjedj designed a mirror arrangement allowing these to be superimposed instantly on the shot. The aim was to restore, in the portrait, the story of the person photographed, thus symbolically giving him or her a place and a face – but also to create unexpected transparencies, especially when, in certain cases, the face must remain unrecognizable.
The first life-sized test was carried out in December 2018 in Berlin, with the assistance of Asli Vatansever. Ten photos were then taken on the site of the University of Nanterre, then forty in a room fitted up for this purpose at the Collège de France. Among these 21 women and 30 men, there are both exiled scholars from four continents, past and present, but also people from the host countries committed to welcoming people and, through this collection of images, symbolically (re)forming the universal community of researchers.
On 2 October 2019, the first eighteen portraits were projected onto a screen at the Gaîté Lyrique Theater (Paris) at an evening event organized by the French hosting program for scientists in exile (PAUSE), accompanied by a concert by Orpheus XXI (▻https://orpheus21. eu/), a group set up by Jordi Savall and composed of musicians from different countries across the world who are now refugees in various European countries.
In June 2020, a film (9 minutes) was produced to advertise the exhibition at the Cité du design; it was screened on the occasion of World Refugee Day (www.science-in-exile.eu). In September 2020, Open Society Foundations (OSF) organized an Instagram communication campaign with eight portraits accompanied by a caption describing the itineraries of the researchers.
The exhibition at the Cité du design in 2021, as well as this special issue of Hommes & Migrations, constitute the culmination of these two years of work, by adding words to the images.
RESTRICA was set up as part of the research project ‘Freedom of research for endangered and emigrant academics,’ funded by the University of Paris Lumières, the Institute of the Social Sciences of the Political at the University of Paris Nanterre and, since 2019, by OSF, PAUSE and the European Union Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (FAMI).