Refugees have been common throughout history, but are for the first time described as such in the early modern period (1450-1750). Integrating historical, legal and social scientific approaches to migration, this project aims to analyse the invention of the refugee in early modern Europe. More specifically, it seeks to achieve three inter-related objectives:

  1. To explain the emergence of the refugee as a social category in European society. It will map when, where and why particular migrants started to describe themselves as ‘refugees’ and trace the models (religious, political, legal) of such discursive strategies.
  2. To identify the agency of displaced religious minorities in forging transnational solidarity networks. By studying how diasporic communities organized themselves, this project reveals the significance of refugees in shaping media coverage, initiating humanitarian interventions and promoting a new emotional culture that focused on empathy.
  3. To uncover the impact of refugees on European state formation. This project will examine how the protection and accommodation of displaced men and women interacted with the ambitions of early modern authorities to expand their territories and forge confessional regimes.

The project consists of three PhD positions and a Postdoc. Funded by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), it will run from 2018-2023.

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