Laura Madokoro’s new book is a timely and important study of movement across national borders, migrants, and the refugee label in the global Cold...

Laura Madokoro’s new book is a timely and important study of movement across national borders, migrants, and the refugee label in the global Cold War. Elusive Refuge: Chinese Migrants in the Cold War (Harvard University Press, 2016) offers critical historical insight into the problem of defining refugee and the significance of changing notions of the concept, focusing in particular on the modern history of settler colonial contexts and their engagement with Asian migrants. Madokoro looks carefully at the malleable nature of the refugee label in Hong Kong, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and beyond, building on a rich archival and oral history base to weave together the stories of individual migrants, international organizations, humanitarian groups, and others. The end of the book explicitly considers how the account offered in Madokoro’s book might inform how we understand the challenges faced by refugees today, especially in the case of Syria, and indeed Madokoro’s study feels like required reading today.

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