Wednesday, January 31: Pragya Kaul Paper Discussion

Please join the European History Workshop on Wednesday, January 31, 2018 from 5:30-7:30 PM in 1014 Tisch Hall. We will be discussing Pragya Kaul’s conference paper “Between Colonizer and Colonized: Nationalism, the War, and Refugee Identity Formation in British India” (abstract below).

For a copy of the paper or to RSVP, please contact Matt Hershey (

Food and drinks will be provided.


“European Jews seeking refuge in British India in the mid to late 1930’s entered a profoundly colonial space. Here, opposing pro-German and anti-European sentiments on the part of the Indians, and pro-white and anti-German sentiments on the part of the colonial administration abounded. More significantly however, refugees entered a space where the dominating reality was a nationalist struggle for independence, and a counter-struggle to ensure the maintenance of the colony, especially because its resources and armies were fundamental to British survival and success in the Second World War. Using memoirs, oral testimony, and photographs of Jewish refugees in India alongside records of the Government of India and the Council for German Jewry, this paper will explore how this context of colonialism and nationalism determined how Jewish refugees were perceived by, and how they interacted with, the local population of colonists and colonized. Recognising that these contexts saw continual shifts with the progress towards and onset of the war, a chronological approach starting in 1933 and ending in the early 1940s is taken. By emphasizing colonial contexts and struggles in exploring identity formation by Jewish refugees, this paper references and expands upon the current historiographical focus on ‘whiteness’ in the Jewish refugee experience. It argues that that the structures of colonialism, and nationalist rebellions against them, are integral to understanding the perceptions which shaped the space in which Jewish refugees constructed their identities. In making this argument, this paper addresses the lack of imperial contexts in understanding the Holocaust and international response to it despite the centrality of colonized nations and populations to the war.”