Scripting Refugees: Historians and Narrations of Refugeedom in Czechoslovak History




‎‎The article analyses the current state of historical research on twentiethcentury refugees who fled to Czechoslovakia. By highlighting parallels in the narratives of different types of migration, it demonstrates how methodological nationalism influences historiographic writ-ing about refugees. It argues that most of the published research can be attributed to one of two broadly conceived scripts, one of which focuses political refugees while the other ad-dresses mass displacements due to war or ethnic cleansing. Whereas historians tend to depict those in the former category especially the refugees from Russia and Ukraine and from Nazi Germany in the interwar period with an individual focus on their biographies and agency, the latter group, in particular refugees during World War I and after the Munich Agreement, are treated in a more general manner that dwells on statistics and government-produced categories. Political refugees are portrayed as active participants in cultural and political struggles, while the masses of refugees tend to be viewed as passive recipients of aid. The study illustrates how the production of historical sources by elite members of refu-gee groups on the one hand, and nation-states on the other, influences the structure of histor-ical narratives, both in terms of what is emphasized and what goes unsaid or unheard.

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