When Boat People were Resettled, 1975–1983

A Comparative History of European and Israeli Responses to the South-East Asian Refugee Crisis

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This book traces the reception and resettlement of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Israel during the 'boat people' crisis of 1975–79.  These years saw hundreds of thousands of people displaced by the emergence of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and political instability across south-east Asia. Using a comparative historical approach, the authors demonstrate the multiple ways in which refugees were contested, accepted, received and resettled across different national contexts. This episode is held up today as an example of European generosity. Yet this book illustrates how the reception of boat people in Western Europe and Israel was shaped by the Cold War, and by specific national preoccupations over international prestige, immigration, labour supply and the place of foreign-born strangers in their increasingly diverse societies. While the post-2015 refugee crisis in Europe has often been construed as a new challenge requiring an unprecedented coordinated international response, this book shows the longer history of such dilemmas.

Chapter 4 is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via link.springer.com.

Becky Taylor is Professor of Modern History at the University of East Anglia, UK. 

Karen Akoka is an Associate Professor in Political Science, Paris Nanterre University, France, a researcher at the Institut des Sciences Sociales du Politique and a Fellow of the Institut Convergences Migrations.  

Marcel Berlinghoff is a senior researcher and member of the Institute for Migration Research and Intercultural Studies (IMIS), Osnabrueck University, Germany  

Shira Havkin is an affiliated researcher at Sciences-Po CERI, France, and a fellow of the Institut Convergences Migrations.


Einband gebundene Ausgabe
Herausgeber Becky Taylor, Karen Akoka, Marcel Berlinghoff, Shira Havkin
Seitenzahl 239
Erscheinungsdatum 05.07.2021
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-3-030-64223-5
Reihe Palgrave Studies in Migration History
Verlag Springer
Maße (L/B) 21/14.8 cm
Auflage 1st ed. 2021


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  • Introduction1 ‘Our Most Foreign Refugees’: Refugees from Vietnam in Britain – Becky Taylor2 Refugee Surprise: The Unlikely Reception of Indochinese ‘Boat-People’ in West Germany – Marcel Berlinghoff3 Asylum without a Refugee Status: The Reception of Vietnamese in Israel – Shira Havkin4 Refugees Above All Suspicion: ‘Boat-People’ Brought in by Plane in France – Karen Akoka5 The ‘Invited Refugees’: Vietnamese ‘Boat-People’ as Catalyst for Institutionalized Refugee Care in the Netherlands – Julia Kleinschmidt