Displacement and Recovery

 

When Štěpanka Korytová had to leave her home in Czechoslovakia for political reasons, she had no expectation that she would ever be able to return.  The displacement of forced exile is something she knew at first hand, and it became the theme of her scholarly life.

 

Czech immigration beyond the Mississippi, 1850-1900

Czech immigration beyond the Mississippi, 1850-1900

Contact with a distant cousin from Nebraska prompted Korytová’s first book, which traces Czech immigration to the farmlands west of the Mississippi.  In the early Czech settlers to the U.S., she found a familiar ethos of displacement—“loneliness, isolation, homesickness, and pride in being Czech.”  As these settlers became more successful in their farms and businesses, their ties to the U.S. became stronger, but still “they cherished their language and preserved it through cultural activities.”

In recent years, Korytová has turned her attention to the displacement caused by human trafficking.  As a visiting scholar-in-residence at the IU Center for the Study of Global Change, she started a multi-disciplinary faculty study group, The Many Faces of Trafficking.  The function of the group has been to get beyond the sensational tabloid material of forced migration for work or sex, to the long-term effects and emotional damage that forced separation from family and country produces.

Korytova at AWSS Reception in Washington, DC

Korytová (left) received the Zirin Prize in Washington, DC, from the Association of Women in Slavic Studies, for her scholarship and current research.

For her “innovative scholarship and current research agenda that promises to make an important intervention on Slavic Women’s studies,” Korytová was awarded the Zirin Prize by the Association of Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS).  The AWSS particularly acknowledged Korytová’s complex view of the impact of immigration both on the immigrants and on those with whom they came in contact, and hoped that the award would encourage and support her study of sex trafficking in Central and Eastern Europe.

Utery, Western Bohemia

When Korytová left her homeland, she never expected to return. But the political scene has changed and she can again see views like this one, from her home in the village of Utery, Western Bohemia, now part of the Czech Republic.

Categories: Area Studies, Faculty