Refugees, Displaced Migrants, and Territorialization in Interwar Palestine
The history of undocumented movement into mandate Palestine by non-Zionist displaced migrants and refugees is one which naturally highlights the territorialization of Palestine’s geopolitical space. From 1920, Great Britain, as the mandatory power in Palestine, bolstered its control over the territory’s physical space through its classification and categorization of refugees and displaced migrants, and the regulation of their movement. Yet, the reactions to these processes by migrants and refugees, highlighted by numerous examples from the archival record, are not entirely ones of resistance. Despite the changing definitions and benefits of refugee and migrant status from the late Ottoman through the interwar period, often-undocumented arrivals to Palestine actively engaged with the mandate’s new immigration and mobility-control regimes and documentary-identity regulations. The active engagement of refugees and displaced migrants included circumventing and subverting these new regimes in a number of pragmatic and inventive ways. As the paper demonstrates, this very engagement serves to highlight the limitations of the mandate administration’s policies on immigration and mobility and of its migrant classification system.
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