Historical Social Research

Peter Gatrell: “Negotiating Resettlement”: Some Concluding Thoughts. [Abstract]

In this article, I take the opportunity to discuss some recent work on the history of population displacement, including the valuable work represented in this HSR Special Issue, with a particular focus on the situation of displaced persons and refugees in Europe in the aftermath of the Second World War. Here, I concentrate on the interaction of multiple actors in the post-war international refugee regime and then turn to some specific issues in relation to the confidential case files of the UNHCR compiled between 1951 and 1975. This allows me a few final reflections on the extent to which digital methods can support research and dissemination as well as the wealth of material at the disposal of any historian who wishes to study the mainsprings of mass population displacement, the management practices and policies of the state, the dynamics of the international refugee regime, the role of activists and relief workers, and not least the responses of refugees who navigated the dangerous waters of displacement, who were caught up in the myriad processes of categorisation, and who encountered officials who had the power to determine their prospects.

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