Liberalism, Race and Humanitarianism: British Colonial Policy and Jewish Refugees 1938-1943

Reeve, Jennifer (2016) Liberalism, Race and Humanitarianism: British Colonial Policy and Jewish Refugees 1938-1943. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis studies the British colonial response to Jewish refugees between 1938 and 1943. By assessing Britain’s ‘bystander’ response through the lens of the empire, this study expands on existing historiography and seeks not just to detail Britain’s limited action but also explain it. In this thesis, the concepts of liberalism, race and humanitarianism are used as analytical frameworks through which to examine British colonial policy. Specifically, in the interwar years, the scope of British (in)action was defined by liberal views on assimilation and the rights of individuals versus groups. Rather than antisemitism, a strict racial hierarchical and paternal system was used to justify British power and to protect British interests in the making of refugee policy. Finally, international humanitarianism was at a particular moment of development in the interwar years, both in terms of the intergovernmental system through which humanitarian action was channelled and in the socio-political expectation on governments to act. This was expressed in a conflict of short-term emergency aid and long-term developmental aid. The result was a colonial policy of compromise that saw officials try to connect the skills and financial assets of refugees with their overriding priority of colonial development and welfare. Through the use of official documents and refugee testimony, this study provides an account of the making and impact of colonial refugee policy and raises questions that remain relevant for us today.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of History
Depositing User: Nicola Veasy
Date Deposited: 11 Jan 2017 14:17
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2021 00:38

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