Refugees in the Yugoslav Space: An Overview of the Historiography




‎The article challenges the common view of the Yugoslav space as an area producing rather than receiving refugees by providing an overview of the main historiographic works dealing with refugees within and into the territories of the former Yugoslavia. It identifies two main conceptual foci that revolve around the understanding of refugees as either “national” or “international.” In the case of “national refugees,” scholars have frequently stressed the existence of supposedly preexisting ethnic ties between the refugees and the territories where they found refuge, but the scholarship also explores the entanglement of diverse population movements, both compulsory and voluntary, in the multinational areas that experienced a process of unmixing of peoples since the second half of the nineteenth century. On the contrary, historiography on “international refugees” displays a more prominent interest in the management of refugees by both state and non-state actors, including their spatial distribution. Furthermore, these scholars have addressed the relationship between the refugee flows from abroad and the country’s geopolitical constellation, demonstrating how foreign policy shapes the reception of refugees, but also how refugee influx reframes international allegiances. While the so called “Balkan route” has put the region in the international spotlight as an important avenue of transit, an overview of historical thinking related to refugees into and within the former Yugoslavia provides tools to reflect upon the way people on the move have been and are conceptualized.

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