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Britannia's EmbraceModern Humanitarianism and the Imperial Origins of Refugee Relief$
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Caroline Shaw

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190200985

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190200985.001.0001

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Taking Refuge in Empire

Taking Refuge in Empire

(p.98) Four Taking Refuge in Empire
Britannia's Embrace

Caroline Shaw

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines refuge once the initial fanfare for refugees’ causes subsided. Enthusiasm for long-term relief was possible because Chartists, mainstream philanthropists, and officials worked to mitigate the social tensions immigration provoked. They achieved this, in large part, by resettling refugees in the Empire or under Britain’s sphere of influence overseas. Sierra Leone was the model for this type of refuge, becoming the darling of missionaries who viewed the project as the ultimate “city of refuge” in which the homeless foreigners could become the self-supporting subjects idealized in liberal ideology. The conditions of refuge for liberated Africans in Sierra Leone were dismal, however. While the public ignored the practical challenges that their project faced and continued to establish new overseas refuges, this willful blindness could not last indefinitely.

Keywords:   British Empire, Chartists, liberal ideology, liberated Africans, missionaries, self-supporting subjects, Sierra Leone, social tensions

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