Event Details

Friday, 02 September 2016
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
UQ Location:
Mansergh Shaw Building (St Lucia)
Event category(s):

Event Contact

Ms Sue Quarton
336 56320
Org. Unit:
Historical and Philosophical Inquiry

Event Description

Full Description:
Presenter: Dr Jayne Persian (University of Southern Queensland)

Vladimir Lezak Borin was a post-war enigma, a Czech migrant to Australia who was much more than he seemed. Following on the tail end of the Displaced Persons (DP) scheme, through which more than 170,000 Central and Eastern Europeans arrived in Australia as International Refugee Organisation-sponsored refugees, Borin was variously described as an ‘adventurer’, a ‘fraud’, and of the ‘political underworld’. Borin’s somewhat convoluted journeys, both political and geographical, tells us something of the life of the politically elite, and active, DP.

Borin’s life also points to the ambiguities inherent in disrupting grand narratives: in this case, that the DPs were politically unproblematic ‘New Australians’. After Borin left the Communist Party after a visit to Moscow in 1934, he was probably a Nazi agent in Paris and indeed, continued in London to provide information to Czech communist agents. Denied British citizenship, he arrived in Australia in 1952 where he wrote the first DP novel and advocated for DPs on various issues with federal politicians. He also continued his political activity, associating with Eric Butler’s far-right organization, the Australian League of Rights, and working with the Democratic Labour Party.

Borin left Australia in the mid-1960s and his travels back to the Soviet Union, and sudden death in either 1968 or 1970, is a matter of conjecture. He was really a ‘world traveler’, a ‘complete cosmopolite’ whose decade in Australia was just one part of a transnational, politically active life.

Jayne Persian is Lecturer in History at the School of Arts and Communication, Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts, at the University of Southern Queensland. She is a historian of twentieth-century Australian and international history, focusing on aspects of the experience of the post-war Central and Eastern Europeans who became known as Displaced Persons. Jayne’s manuscript on Displaced Persons in Australia will be published by UNSW Press in 2017.

Directions to UQ

Google Map:
To St Lucia Campus, UQ Ipswich, and UQ Gatton.

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