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Voicing New Identities: Two Case-Studies of Oral History and Displacement in WW2 and its Aftermath

Abstract : The current refugee crisis is unprecedented, and it prompts many questions on how to tackle the emergency and on the mechanisms of international humanitarian aid. The Displaced Persons (DPs) crisis that followed the Second World War anticipated the problems that we are confronting today, and the chronological distance with the late Forties allows us to study the “voices” of DPs, refugees and asylum seekers under many more perspectives, and the lessons learned can contribute to the debates and projects on more contemporary questions. The aim of this article is to contribute to the lively debate on the lived experiences of displacement in the Second World War and its aftermath by looking at two case studies: that of refugees coming to Britain and the United States during the conflict on the one hand, and that of DPs resettled in the same countries in the aftermath of war on the other. The study of oral history interviews conducted by the author and those held at British and American sound archives shows how these participants composed their memory and voiced their identity, a new cultural identity which had been constructed in the decades between the war and the time when they were interviewed, and which is voiced in the interview itself. The analysis also shows that three elements have a deeper impact on the way memory is composed and identity is voiced in these oral history interviews: emotions, relationships and languages.
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Contributor : Simona Tobia <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 13, 2020 - 10:56:33 AM
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Simona Tobia. Voicing New Identities: Two Case-Studies of Oral History and Displacement in WW2 and its Aftermath. Close Encounters in War journal, Close Encounters in War, 2019, Close encounters, displacement and war, pp.27-48. ⟨hal-02436577⟩

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