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Displaced Persons and the Politics of International Categorisation(s)



Between 1947 and 1952 170,000 Displaced Persons (DPs) arrived in Australia as International Refugee Organisation (IRO)-sponsored refugees. This article sets out the international historical and political context for the migration of DPs to Australia, and interrogates the “bureaucratic labelling” inherent in the category “Displaced Persons”. The post-war refugees were presented internationally as “Displaced Persons”, “refugees”, “political refugees” and eventually, in an effort to solve the population crisis, as potential “workers” and “migrants”. This article will describe the historical origin of the terms “Displaced Persons”, “refugees”, “political exiles” and “migrants”— terms which were, and continue to be, relevant and problematic.