The Making of the Modern Refugee is a comprehensive history of global population displacement in the twentieth century. It takes a new approach to the subject, exploring its causes, consequences, and meanings. History, the author shows, provides important clues to understanding how the idea of refugees as a 'problem' embedded itself in the minds of policy-makers and the public, and poses a series of fundamental questions about the nature of enforced migration and how it has shaped society throughout the twentieth century across a broad geographical area - from Europe and the Middle East to South Asia, South-East Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa. Wars, revolutions, and state formation are invoked as the main causal explanations of displacement, and are considered alongside the emergence of a twentieth-century refugee regime linking governmental practices, professional expertise, and humanitarian relief efforts.
This new study rests upon scholarship from several disciplines and draws extensively upon oral testimony, eye-witness accounts, and film, as well as unpublished source material in the archives of governments, international organisations, and non-governmental organisations. The Making of the Modern Refugee explores the significance that refugees attached to the places they left behind, to their journeys, and to their destinations - in short, how refugees helped to interpret and fashion their own history.