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Researcher output profile for Dr Greg Burgess
My primary research concerns the refugee in history. My work pursues questions such as how refugees have been conceived and responded to in policy terms, and how principles of rights have evolved around them. My focus has been on the history of refugees and asylum in France since the Revolution. My broad aim is to merge my professional expertise in refugee law from my time as a researcher with Australia’s Refugee Review Tribunal with my academic background in political and social history. Principles of rights and the status of refugees under domestic law has evolved over time, and changed as political, economic, and social pressures have intervened shape government responses. The French experience is unique in several ways. A principle of the ‘right of asylum’ for refugees has sustained a belief in the transcend right of refugees to protection, irrespective of other priorities, and demands a moral response of government to protect these right. Even when policy responses contradicted this broad principle, these responses were justified against a belief in the right of asylum.
While an Honorary Fellow at Birkbeck College, I am engaged in two major projects. One is a history of refugees and asylum in France since its liberation in 1944, a follow-up volume to my 2008 book, which will examine in detail many of the critical moments in the recent history of refugees. The book will detail the troublesome path towards normalisation of refuge and asylum in the late 1940s, the international regime for the assistance and protection of refugees under the United Nations, and the challenges that emerged from the 1970s as France responded to negative popular sentiment and growing racial intolerance with restrictive measures. The second project is a history of James G. McDonald’s High Commission for the Refugees from Germany, created by the League of Nations in 1933, but cast adrift from it as a ‘bastard-child’. It will attempt to address the question of why more could not be done to assist the Jews of Germany
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