Borders, Global Governance and the Refugee, 1947-51

This project looks at the history of international refugee policy and its impact on contemporary challenges
Project status

Global governance is currently facing an unprecedented crisis. In an era of rising populism, tensions between the nation-state and internationalism are heightened as never before, chiefly over refugees’ cross-border movement. In response, the UK and the UN are both seeking to reform existing refugee policy. By unpacking the international refugee regime’s historical origins, this project will reframe the contemporary discourse to directly inform policy-making. It will examine how today’s refugee regime was the product of a particular historical moment after the Second World War, which established a system of global governance for managing forced migration, and set the stage for internationalist tensions with the nation-state. The UK was central to this process, as two of the era’s biggest refugee crises occurred following its decolonisation of India in 1947 and Palestine in 1948. This interdisciplinary research will thus comparatively analyse the past in order to enhance understandings in the present.

Principal Investigator:  Dr Anne Irfan, University of Oxford

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