As part of the Wiener Library’s Refugees Then and Now series in conjunction with our new temporary exhibition, A Bitter Road: Britain and the Refugee Crisis of the 1930s and 1940s, we are pleased to host a talk by Professor Tony Kushner.
In the 1930s and 40s, tens of thousands of Jews tried to reach Palestine by sea, many against the wishes of the British mandatory authorities. Today, the number of migrants trying to reach Europe across the Mediterranean has run into the millions. This talk will explore the continuities and parallels, as well as differences, between the two migratory movements and especially the idea of migrants being ‘illegal’. More generally it asks whether Jewish refugees from Nazism can be better understood in a longer tradition of forced migration in and beyond the twentieth century or whether their experiences were exceptional.
Tony Kushner is Professor in the Parkes Institute for the Study of Jewish/non-Jewish Relations and History Department at the University of Southampton. His most recent book is The Battle of Britishness: Migrant Journeys since 1685 (Manchester University Press, 2012). He is currently working on a study of the construction of ethnicity in the British armed forces and two books relating to the Holocaust: Journeys from the Abyss: The Holocaust and Forced Migration and, with Dr Aimee Bunting, Co-Presents to the Holocaust. He is co-editor of the journal Patterns of Prejudice and deputy editor of Jewish Culture and History.