A Cold War Pursuit : Soviet refugees in Sweden, 1945-54
Abstract: What determines refugee policies in liberal democracies? Humanitarianism? International relations? Economics? Identity issues? International law? Concerns for national security? This book explores these factors through a case study of non-aligned Sweden’s management of Soviet refugees during the first decade of the Cold War. The policy of admission and political asylum; the government’s handling of direct Soviet demands regarding refugees; the Swedish authorities’ surveillance strategies and the continuing living conditions of individuals who were permitted to stay, are all studied in depth. The results demonstrate that refugees’ right to protection was successively strengthened during the period, as asylum policies were reformulated as a matter more of (international) law than (national) politics. That said, however, some refugees – Russian speakers in particular – were generally regarded as more untrustworthy than others and were subjected to severe control measures, such as, for example, rigorous restrictions placed on their movement. The treatment they received fluctuated significantly in tandem with the bipolar tensions of the Cold War. Here, ethnic prejudice influenced perceptions of threat.This book thus contributes to our understanding of the Cold War and the considerable impact it had on widespread aspects of society. However, it also facilitates a more thorough comprehension of the fundamental prerequisites of refugee policies in general. In particular, it pertains to the paramount question: what are the conditions for humanitarian policies in times of international tension? This is a highly relevant issue in the post 9/11 world in which security concerns and migration policies are firmly entangled, and where counter-terrorism measures have increased the difficulties faced by all refugees who strive to reach the West.
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