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date: 06 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter explores the mechanisms and underlying socioeconomic causes of the forced migrations that attended the decolonization of Southeast Asia. It is argued that these migrations share many characteristics with those in the wake of dissolution of the empires of the European continent after the First World War. Unlike in Europe, however, most of the displacements remained under the radar of the international refugee agencies even if they entailed harrowing conditions and human suffering. Expulsion of colonial elites to Europe, China, or Japan were rubricized as repatriations rather than international migrations, even if they involved migrants having to leave for countries they had never seen before. For most of the decolonization era that extended well into the 1970s, only international refugee diasporas were identified as migration crises. They were nonetheless just the tip of the iceberg of all the displacements that attended the decades of decolonization and nation building. It is only since the 1990s that internal displacements in Southeast Asia have become defined as migration crises as part of global turn on this subject.

Keywords: decolonization, forced migrations, Southeast Asia, refugees, internal displacements

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