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Rosa de Jong MA

PhD candidate

E-mail: r.dejong@uva.nl

Area(s) of interest: Colonialism & Postcolonialism, Dutch History, Migration History & Diaspora, Modern & Contemporary History, War & Conflict

From European ports to Caribbean homes: Second World War refugees in global transit

University of Amsterdam
Promotor(es): Prof. dr. Peter Romijn, dr. Rosemarijn Hoefte
Aanstelling: Vanaf 1 september 2019

During the Second World War over three hundred refugees fled from the Netherlands via different European ports to the Caribbean, ending up mainly in Jamaica, Suriname and Curaçao. This project investigates how the power balance between governmental structures and the agency of the refugees influenced their flight and subsequent fate.
Understanding this balance necessitates a simultaneous focus on both the micro-level of lived experience and the macro-level of governmental structures. By connecting and moving between the micro- and macro-view of the same transnational contingency, I demonstrate an interdisciplinary approach that is applicable to other refugee migrations in modern history. Intersections of class, race, gender, religion and nationality are important for understanding the interactions between these refugees, Caribbean citizens and the European national and imperial powers; therefore intersectionality is an overarching approach.
To discuss these different groups that left Europe at various moments in time and ended up in disparate Caribbean colonies, I identify four localities: the port, the ship, the internment camp and a new home. Each refugee passes through all four localities, which function as knots binding the threads of their diverse trajectories together. I thus analyse similarities and dissimilarities in the refugees’ experiences at various stages.
Many sources including archival and untapped personal collections, as well as oral histories and interviews that I will conduct with survivors, have value beyond this specific subject. This study of European refugees arriving in multicultural Caribbean societies provides the opportunity to gain greater insight into refugee and migration studies.