Navigating a limited ‘world of possibilities’: refugee journeys of Jewish children and youth in the aftermath of the Holocaust

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Abstract

What can historians bring to the current discussion about refugee journeys? Building on the example of a group of 1,115 young Jewish survivors who went to Canada in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust, this article addresses two essential questions: why did they leave and why did they go to Canada and not elsewhere? Drawing on Nicolas Mariot and Claire Zalc’s notion of a ‘world of possibilities’ and taking into consideration age as a category of analysis, I argue that one can formulate hypotheses about these journeys by first mapping what was and was not available to the young survivors at different moments of their displacement, and second by looking at how individuals navigated these possibilities and constraints. In so doing, this article aims to nuance approaches that uncritically emphasise agency, and therefore erase the specificity of young people’s experiences of displacement.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalContemporary European History
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 3 Jul 2020