The Role of Public History in the History of Refugees and Migrants

As a convener of the IHR Public History Seminar, I’m chairing an event next Wednesday looking at Public History and the recent refugee crisis. Please do come along.

IHR Public History

A home for Belgian refugee children in England. © IWM (Q 108266)

Over the summer the media was full of images and news stories on what was being called the ‘worst refugee crisis’ in Europe since the Second World War. Such a label inevitably brings historical comparisons and many reports attempted to underline the scale of the migration into Europe from the Middle East and Africa with statistics and historic case studies.

Other reports aimed to establish a historic tradition of accepting refugees as a way of criticising the current political attitudes towards refugees from Syria and other migrants, either in Europe or in Westminster. The Kindertransport in 1938 and Hungarian crisis of 1956 were popular comparisons, and my own Facebook feed started to fill with references to the Irish diaspora of the 1840s, (the result of numerous Irish and Irish-American relatives). This photo gallery is a perfect example of…

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