In Defence of Learning: the past and the present

Established in the 1930s to rescue scientists and scholars from Nazi Europe, the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (SPSL, founded in 1933 as the Academic Assistance Council and now known as the Council for Assisting Refugee Academics) has had an illustrious career. No fewer than eighteen of its early grantees became Nobel Laureates and 120 were elected Fellows of the British Academy and Royal Society in the UK. While a good deal has been written on the SPSL in the 1930s and 1940s, and especially on the achievements of the outstanding scientists rescued, much less attention has been devoted to the scholars who contributed to the social sciences and humanities, and there has been virtually no research on the Society after the Second World War. The archive-based essays in this volume, written to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the organisation, are the first to attempt to fill this gap. The essays include revisionist accounts of the founder of the SPSL and some of its early grantees. For the first time, the story examines its relationship with associates and allies, the experiences of women academics and those of the post- war academic refugees from Communist Europe, apartheid South Africa and Pinochet's Chile. In addition to scholarly contributions, the volume includes moving essays by the children of early grantees. At a time of increasing international concern with refugees and immigration, it is a timely reminder of the enormous contribution generations of academic refugees have made - and continue to make - to learning the world over.

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