Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, 2021
Serie: ZMO Working Papers 29
This paper follows the plight of Walter Ruben (1899–1982), an Indologist who had begun his career in Frankfurt am Main and later became one of the leading Indologists of the German Democratic Republic. In
mid-1930s, he escaped Nazi persecution by seeking exile in Turkey. Relying on archival research in the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW) and the Prime Ministry’s Republican Archives (BCA) in Istanbul, the Turkish press, and oral historical sources, together with the publications of Ruben during his Ankara years, I bring to light Ruben’s life trajectory during his exile and internment with a balanced analysis of his ‘production of knowledge’ as a scholar at risk. The scholarly pressure and difficulties Ruben faced as an endangered scholar hired by a single-party authoritarian state delineate the precariousness and vulnerabilities of life as an exile academic. His original research and writing during his forced internment in Kırşehir, on the other hand, marks another dimension of his exile years, namely his endless effort to look for a real refuge within his intellectual production.