Hubs of Resettlement: the case of the Philippines

The Philippines as a Place of Transit and Destination. Jewish, Russian, and Chinese Displaced Persons in Search of Old and New Homes, 1945-1955

This dissertation project deals with resettlement of displaced persons (DP) who had found refuge in the Philippines during and after World War II. The DP groups mainly consisted of Jewish refugees from Europe as well as so-called “White Russians” – who had fled Communism first in Russia and then in China and who were temporarily accommodated in a refugee camp on Tubabao island. What is more, so-called overseas Chinese, who had escaped the advancing Imperial Japanese Army to China, were seeking to return to their homes in the Philippines. Based on the Philippine example, the thesis aims to examine the post-war resettlement regime and its impact on refugees´ lives from a global history perspective. Firstly, I will investigate the work and objectives of different transnational as well as national players (such as UNNRA, IRO, Russian and Jewish refugee organizations as well as the concerned nations, respectively). While the organizations and hosting countries pressed for quick resettlement, receiving countries were mostly unwilling to expand their immigration quotas. Exploring the resettlement regime from an Asian-Pacific perspective, the thesis will bring together issues like the Holocaust, post-colonial nation building, imperialism, Antisemitism, the desire for white immigration and nation-building, the Chinese Civil War, and the commencing Cold War. Secondly, the thesis aims to retrace the resettlement journeys of the DPs. This includes their desired place of settlement, their daily lives in the prolonged transit phase, the criterion for their resettlement success, their paths into home or new countries, their arrivals, and the potential onward migration, and, eventually, the building of their lives in new and old homes. These journeys are planned to be analysed on a biographic, actor-based level as well as on the level of general movements. The research project addresses the question to what extend DPs were objects of an international resettlement regime and caught between various powerful players and to what extend they were able to exert their agency.

Lena Clara Christoph, BA MA