This book explores Jewish refugee movements before, during and after the Holocaust and to place them in a longer history of forced migration from the 1880s to the present. It does not deny that there were particular issues facing the Jews escaping from Nazism, but in this enlightening study the author emphasises that there are longer term trends which shed light on responses to and the experiences of these refugees and other forced migrants.
Focusing on women, children, and ‘illegal’ boat migrants, the author considers not only British spheres of influence, but also Europe, the Middle East, the Americas, South Asia, Australasia. The approach adopted is historical but incorporates insights from many different disciplines including geography, anthropology, cultural and literary studies and politics. State as well as popular responses are integrated and the voices of the refugees themselves are highlighted throughout. Films, novels, museums and memorials are used alongside more traditional sources, allowing exploration of history and memory. And whilst the importance of comparison underpins this book, it also provides a detailed history of many neglected refugee movements or aspects within them such as gender and childhood.
Written in a lively and committed style, the book is accessible to both a general as well as a specialist audience, and will be of interest to those interested in the Holocaust, migration and generally in the growing crisis of ordinary people forced to move.
'The book is very strong and its fresh material is communicated in a highly engaging style. It also identifies the commonalities between the experiences of Holocaust survivors and current refugees, thereby rejecting a simplistic binary between earlier flows of people as independent and legal and more recent ones as mendicant and illegal. The point is well taken and, in setting these historical events against contemporary occurrences, Kushner’s intention is to demonstrate the commonalities in the experiences of all refugees.'
Anna Boucher, Times Higher Education
'Kushner is an excellent guide to a whole new literature looking at refugees in terms of gender, age and memory. He has read widely and has an eye for the big picture, but he also offers close readings, from book covers to fiction and oral testimony, looking for resonant themes, such as the significance of the journey or a sense of place. Above all, Kushner brings both moral passion and a welcome scepticism to his work. This is an excellent introduction to the new ways in which scholars are thinking about displacement and forced migration, one of the most urgent issues of our own time, but also one with a long and complex history.'
David Herman, Times Literary Supplement
'Journeys from the Abyss is an essential read in many aspects: because of its efforts to connect the Holocaust to twentieth-century forced migrations; because of the forgotten experiences of refugees it unravels and the challenges they pose to Britain’s self-congratulatory national narrative; and finally because it is inspiring for historians who refuse to contribute to the creation of a ‘usable past’ but aspire to promote a discipline that is responsive and engages with today’s major issues.'
Antoine Burgard, European Review of History
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