Beyond Relief and Rehabilitation: UNRRA in Historical Perspective, 1943-1947 – deadline 15 April 2018

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Date / time
Date(s) - 28 June
All day

Armstrong Building, Newcastle University


Beyond Relief and Rehabilitation: UNRRA in Historical Perspective, 1943-1947Samantha K Knapton (Newcastle University) and Katherine Rossy (Queen Mary University London)

The United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration, or UNRRA, was the first truly international humanitarian effort to prevent famine, destitution, and disease after a major conflict. Until the creation of UNRRA in 1943, war and post-war relief was predominantly carried out by charities, philanthropic individuals, or societies, each of which had independent aims and motives. Between its creation in 1943 and its closure in 1947, UNRRA provided emergency relief and long-term rehabilitation to millions of refugees and displaced persons (DPs) who fell under its mandate. UNRRA’s action in the international arena marked a watershed moment in international relations, human rights, and refugee humanitarianism. In shaping migration policy and conflict resolution and reconstruction processes, the Administration established a precedent for the emergence of the modern-day United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as for future UN specialised agencies, such as UNICEF, UNESCO, and WHO. In many ways, UNRRA can be viewed as a lens through which we can understand present-day challenges in the world today.

We are delighted to welcome Dr. Jessica Reinisch (Birkbeck, University of London) as our keynote speaker.

This one-day workshop, which will be held on Thursday, June 28th 2018 at Newcastle University, will bring together like-minded scholars and experts of UNRRA with the aim of revealing how humanitarian needs conflicted with administrative and political restrictions within the context of WWII and its immediate aftermath. We are interested in papers that examine any aspect of UNRRA from its conception and beyond, including (but not limited to):

  • The UNRRA mandate, international protection, and the politics of eligibility and exclusion
  • Relief and rehabilitation in local, regional, transnational, and international contexts
  • The immediate and long-term needs of refugees and DPs
  • UNRRA and material needs (i.e. food rations; clothing; housing; medical supplies)
  • Trajectories of repatriation and forced migration; repatriation convoys; transit and reception centres
  • Resettlement schemes; immigration schemes; labour schemes
  • The DP camp in everyday life (e.g. hospitals, mess halls, places of worship, vocational training, schooling)
  • UNRRA, children and childhood (e.g. displaced children; child orphans; unaccompanied children; Child Search)
  • UNRRA and criminality- UNRRA and the military authorities
  • UNRRA and intergovernmental and/or voluntary agencies
  • UNRRA and Jewish DPs
  • The transition from UNRRA to the International Refugee Organisation (IRO, 1947-1950), its successor agency
  • The legacies of UNRRA in modern-day United Nations specialised agencies (UNHCR; UNICEF; UNESCO; WHO)

Please send an abstract (300 words max.) and a brief biographical sketch to Samantha Knapton ( and Katherine Rossy ( by April 15th 2018. Papers that adopt an interdisciplinary approach are especially welcome. The exact time of the workshop will be announced closer to the event.

This workshop is supported by Newcastle University’s Humanities Research Institute (NUHRI), the Cultural Significance of Place (CSoP), and the International Studies in Forced Migration Group. Thanks to generous funding, there will be no attendance fee and will include refreshments, a luncheon, and a wine reception. Registration details will be announced well in advance of the workshop date.