What is refugee history, now?

Peter Gatrell, Katarzyna Nowak, Lauren Banko

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Refugee history at present lacks a conceptual framework, notwithstanding the proliferation of recent contributions that contribute to enlarging the field. Our article seeks to advance refugee history by drawing upon extensive research into historical case studies and proposing the framework of refugeedom. Refugeedom takes proper account of the states and other actors that defined the ‘refugee’ as a category and sought to manage refugees as figures of concern, but it also insists upon the need to consider refugees as an active and assertive historical presence in situations of crisis and constraint. It offers a promising
approach for analysing episodes and sites of mass population displacement from the perspectives of governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. Crucially, refugeedom incorporates the experiences of refugees and how they narrated displacement. Finally, the article outlines a direction
for global history by drawing attention to past episodes of displacement in ways that capture not only its global scale, but also the multiple relationships and practices of refugeedom.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-19
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Global History
Publication statusPublished - 3 Aug 2021


  • Refugeedom
  • Refugee History
  • Migration
  • Displacement
  • historiography


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