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On the Edges of Whiteness: Polish Refugees in British Colonial Africa during and after the Second World War

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On the Edges of Whiteness

Polish Refugees in British Colonial Africa during and after the Second World War

Jochen Lingelbach

306 pages, 15 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-444-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (May 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-447-6 eBook

Hb View cartYour country: United States - edit   Buy the eBook! $34.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Taken together, the chapters offer persuasive insights into the ambivalent position of Polish refugees in their hosting countries and their complex interactions with the different actors of colonial societies. Lingelbach convincingly argues that they were similar to many subaltern groups such as the poor, criminals, and lunatics. They were, therefore, ‘located on the edges of whiteness’…Certainly, the book significantly contributes to refugee history, whiteness studies, and the history of colonial Africa during and after the Second World War.” • Journal of Contemporary History

“Lingelbach places the Polish settlers at the centre of a complicated web of relations in terms of race, gender and class, as well as processes such as the Second World War, Poland’s post-war status as a Soviet satellite, decolonisation, the new, post-war global refugee regime, etc. The story he tells is thus complex, novel and interesting.” • H-Soz-Kult

“This is a solid piece of research that addresses a rarely explored aspect of the global refugee crisis of the World War II era. In drawing comparisons between the Poles' experiences in different countries and regions, it gives voice to the African perspective and provides a much-needed contextualization of the refugees' reception.” • Lynne Taylor, University of Waterloo

“This fascinating book adds considerably to the literature on refugee history and whiteness studies. Tracing the experience of Polish refugees across multiple colonies, Jochen Lingelbach demonstrates the necessity of closely attending to the peculiarities of the context in which any group of refugees seeks shelter.” • Brett Shadle, Virginia Tech


From 1942 to 1950, nearly twenty thousand Poles found refuge from the horrors of war-torn Europe in camps within Britain’s African colonies, including Uganda, Tanganyika, Kenya and Northern and Southern Rhodesia. On the Edges of Whiteness tells their improbable story, tracing the manifold, complex relationships that developed among refugees, their British administrators, and their African neighbors. While intervening in key historical debates across academic disciplines, this book also gives an accessible and memorable account of survival and dramatic cultural dislocation against the backdrop of global conflict.

Jochen Lingelbach is a postdoctoral research fellow in African History at the University of Bayreuth. He obtained his doctorate at the University of Leipzig and currently works on the project “Africa in the Global History of Refugee Camps” within the University of Bayreuth’s “Africa Multiple” Cluster of Excellence.

Subject: Refugee and Migration Studies Colonial History
Area: Africa


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