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Caroline Emily Shaw F'10, F'09

Caroline Emily Shaw

Assistant Professor
Bates College
last updated: 08/21/14

Mellon/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellowships 2010
University of California, Berkeley
Recall to Life: Imperial Britain, Foreign Refugees, and the Development of Modern Refuge, 1789-1921

Prior to the twentieth century, there was no legal definition for refugee. The distinction was cultural and the result of campaigns waged by would-be refugees and their British hosts. This project explains how the refugee became a category for humanitarian action in the century before it was enshrined in international law by tracking how the British distinguished refugees from other foreigners, and why. The horrors of the refugee’s plight made refuge a moral imperative constitutive of what it meant for Britain to act as a liberal nation and empire. Moreover, refuge had policy consequences across the Empire and in foreign relations. After 1870, the British became leery of wielding imperial power for refugees. By then, however, this particularly British act was fast becoming an international one.

Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships 2009
Department: History
University of California, Berkeley
Recall to Life: Britons, Foreign Refugees and Modern Refuge 1789-1905

Prior to the twentieth century, there was no legal definition of the refugee. The distinction was cultural and, this dissertation argues, it was the product of campaigns waged by would-be refugees and their supporters. Taking British refugee supporters as its case study, this project examines the origins of our modern category, asking how the British distinguished refugees from other foreigners, and why. Between a seventeenth-century confessional model and the twentieth- and twenty-first-century international model, the notion of refuge in this period was tied to the national and imperial identity of the refuge providers. For the British, the horrors of the refugee’s plight made refuge a national imperative constitutive of what it meant to act as a liberal nation and empire. The needs of foreign refugees outstripped imperial capacities by the twentieth century, however, leading British philanthropists to seek out alliances abroad that would give rise to our modern international relief organizations.