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Free World?
The Campaign to Save the World's Refugees, 1956–1963


  • Date Published: August 2016
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521174817

£ 23.99

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About the Authors
  • Free World? is a major contribution to the transnational history of humanitarianism in the postwar world. Peter Gatrell shows how and why the UN, NGOs, governments and individuals embarked on a unique campaign, World Refugee Year (1959–60), in response to global refugee crises, particularly in Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. Adopted by nearly one hundred countries, the campaign galvanised public opinion and raised money by enlisting celebrities, using the mass media, and recreating 'refugee camps' in the affluent West. Free World? assesses the causes and consequences of the refugee crises, locates the campaign in the broader geopolitical context of the Cold War and decolonisation and shows how it helped to inspire subsequent campaigns such as Amnesty International and Freedom from Hunger. Ultimately, the book asks how those who are in a more privileged position might better reflect on their responsibilities towards refugees in the modern world.

    • Provides a critical evaluation of refugee relief efforts in the postwar world, culminating in a history of the UN campaign for World Refugee Year, 1959–60, and its unique global scope
    • Offers accessible and unprecedented insights into the local, national and global dimensions of the history of humanitarian relief
    • Explores the interactions between governments, NGOs, the United Nations, UNHCR and other players involved in refugee relief
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Peter Gatrell has written a fine book which recounts and details a little remembered period of the history of humanitarian assistance to refugees some fifty years ago. Free World? is an important contribution to our understanding of refugee policy in the early period of the Cold War. Unlike most other studies, this book focuses on the roles of individuals and civil society rather than international organizations and states in responding to refugee problems. The book will be of particular interest to students of transnational history and transnational advocacy networks as well as to those who research and write about protracted refugee situations.' Journal of Refugee Studies

    'Free World? is a fine contribution to the literature about the international response to refugees during the period from 1945 to 1963.' Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    'Peter Gatrell's Free World? is an invaluable addition to the historiography of refugee affairs, and his engaging analysis raises new questions and modes of inquiry that other scholars will be well served to consider. Quite simply, Free World? is now the standard account of World Refugee Year.' Journal of World History

    '… impressive study …' International History Review

    'This is a commendable book, rich with details showing Gatrell's fine research skills.' American Historical Review

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2016
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521174817
    • length: 278 pages
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.42kg
    • contains: 22 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Free World?
    2. Sites of confrontation, crucibles of displacement: towards World Refugee Year
    3. World Refugee Year: the politics of a global campaign
    4. World Refugee Year presences and absences
    5. Bricks or dynamite? Achievements, disappointments, opportunities
    Conclusion. Global politics, humanitarianism and refugees in the modern era.

  • Author

    Peter Gatrell, University of Manchester
    Peter Gatrell is Professor of Economic History at the University of Manchester. His previous publications include Homelands: War, Population and Statehood in Eastern Europe and Russia, 1918–1924 (co-edited, 2004), and Warlands: Population Resettlement and State Reconstruction in the Soviet-East European Borderlands, 1945–1950 (co-edited, 2008).

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