Britannias Embrace: Modern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief

Hardcover | September 25, 2015

byCaroline Shaw

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On the eve of the American Revolution, the refugee was, according to British tradition, a Protestant who sought shelter from continental persecution. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, British refuge would be celebrated internationally as being open to all persecuted foreigners.Britain had become a haven for fugitives as diverse as Karl Marx and Louis Napoleon, Simon Bolivar and Frederick Douglass. How and why did the refugee category expand? How, in a period when no law forbade foreigners entry to Britain, did the refugee emerge as a category for humanitarian andpolitical action? Why did the plight of these particular foreigners become such a characteristically British concern? Current understandings about the origins of refuge have focused on the period after 1914. Britannia's Embrace offers the first historical analysis of the origins of this modern humanitarian norm in the long nineteenth century. At a time when Britons were reshaping their own political culture, thischaritable endeavor became constitutive of what it meant to be liberal on the global stage. Like British anti-slavery, its sister movement, campaigning on behalf of foreign refugees seemed to give purpose to the growing empire and the resources of empire gave it greater strength. By the dawn of thetwentieth century, British efforts on behalf of persecuted foreigners declined precipitously, but its legacies in law and in modern humanitarian politics would be long-lasting. In telling this story, Britannia's Embrace puts refugee relief front and center in histories of human rights and international law and of studies of Britain in the world. In so doing, it describes the dynamic relationship between law, resources, and moral storytelling that remains critical tohumanitarianism today.

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On the eve of the American Revolution, the refugee was, according to British tradition, a Protestant who sought shelter from continental persecution. By the turn of the twentieth century, however, British refuge would be celebrated internationally as being open to all persecuted foreigners.Britain had become a haven for fugitives as di...

Caroline Shaw is Assistant Professor of History at Bates College.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:328 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:September 25, 2015Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190200987

ISBN - 13:9780190200985

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Table of Contents

AcknowledgmentsIntroduction: Britannia's EmbracePart I: The Rise of Liberal Refuge1. Catholic Emigres and the Protestant Nation2. The Consolation of Refuge3. Telling Stories, Taking Action4. Taking Refuge in Empire5. Colonial Refuge in the Metropolitan EyePart II: A National Tradition or a Universal Right? Refuge and the Law6. Heroes, Villains, and the Parameters of Political Asylum7. Probing the Limits of Imperial Humanitarianism8. Hardening the Humanitarian HeartConclusion: Moral Politics and the Quest for a Language of RightNotesBibliographyIndex