Material Culture and Displacement in Transitions from War to Peace in Displaced Persons Camps in Post-WWII Europe
Keywords:Displaced Persons, materiality, objects, postwar Europe, refugee history, civilizing mission, World War II displacement
In the aftermath of the Second World War, displaced victims of war came to be seen as a symbol of post-war ruin and civilisational decline. Policymakers and relief workers envisaged the rehabilitation of refugees as a vital element of the economic, cultural, and political reconstruction of Europe, the process underpinned by the discourse of civilisation. This article shows how these efforts manifested through material aid and, in doing so, it uses objects as a key to reading experiences of transition from war to peace in the early Cold War era. Four objects – a razor blade, a performance costume, a toolbox, and a mezuzah pendant – serve as starting points to illustrate wider areas of a recivilising agenda that were considered to be necessary for the post-war reconstruction: health and cleanliness, the promotion of Western values and lifestyles, the rebuilding of identities and cultural life, and training and education.
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Copyright (c) 2023 Katarzyna Nowak
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