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Ruptured Lives

Refugee Crises in Historical Perspective

Author Jesse Spohnholz, Series editor Jesse Spohnholz, and Clif Stratton

Publication Date - 17 August 2020

ISBN: 9780197520598

176 pages

In Stock

Each title in the Roots of Contemporary Issues series gives students the opportunity to engage with the contours of a historical argument


Growing directly out of the experiences of a team of historians at Washington State University who designed a new foundational course for WSU's common requirements, the Roots of Contemporary Issues series is built on the premise that students will be better at facing current and future challenges, no matter their major or career path, if they are capable of addressing controversial and pressing issues in mature, reasoned ways using evidence, critical thinking, and clear written and oral communication skills. To help students achieve these goals, each title in the Roots of Contemporary Issues series argues that we need both a historical understanding and an appreciation of the ways in which humans have been interconnected with places around the world for decades and even centuries.

Much of the world's politics revolves around questions about refugees and other migrating peoples, including debating the scope and limits of humanitarianism; the relevance of national borders in a globalized world; racist rhetoric and policies; global economic inequalities; and worldwide environmental disasters. There are no easy answers to these questions, but the decisions that all of us make about them will have tremendous consequences for individuals and for the planet in the future.

Ruptured Lives works from the premise that studying the history of refugee crises can help us make those decisions more responsibly. Examining conflicts--in Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa--that have produced migrations of people fleeing dangers or persecution, it aims to provide an intellectual framework for understanding how to think about the conflicts that produce refugees and the effects that refugee crises have on individuals and societies.


  • Introduces students to history from the point of view of controversial and pressing issues they already know about and many of whom already feel invested in. This Increases students' engagement, particularly for general education or required history courses.
  • Every chapter models the analysis of primary sources relevant to the subject. This allows students to imagine the variety of sources available to them for historical research, and to see how historians use different kinds of sources to make conclusions.
  • Every chapter models the engagement with and ways to resolve historiographical debate, helping students to understand that differences of interpretation do not preclude the respectful development of reasonable conclusions.
  • Where appropriate, chapters demonstrate how historians and scholars in other fields rely on one another. Helps non-majors and general education students understand how history can relate to other fields in the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.
  • Chapters offer depth by offering case studies in world history. Students are able to see the details of a historical argument and narrative instead of relying on surface level descriptions of historical developments.
  • Each chapter models historical knowledge as constructed, not absolute, by describing recent discovery or new conclusions that have changed historians†understanding of the past, or gaps remaining in the historical records. This allows students to understand history not just as the changing events of the past, but as a process of knowledge construction still ongoing today.
  • Connects pre-modern to modern history explicitly. Additionally, each chapter includes both Western and non-Western content. Allows readers to understand the deep past as connected to the present, and to see that the West has interacted with non-Western regions for centuries.

About the Author(s)

Jesse Spohnholz is Professor of History and Director of the Roots of Contemporary Issues program at Washington State University.


"Ruptured Lives delivers a clear, compelling, and well-written human perspective on the origins, development, and implications of refugee crises in world history."--Rebekah Klein-Pejsova, Purdue University

Table of Contents

    Each chapter ends with a Conclusion.

    List of Maps and Figures
    About the Author
    Series Introduction: Connecting the Past and Present


    Chapter 1. Reformation, Refugees, and the Creation of Europe
    The Creation of Christendom
    The Collapse of Christendom and the Age of Religious Wars
    The Creation of Europe

    Chapter 2. Colonialism, Refugees, and the Invention of America
    The Invention of America
    European Refugees in the Americas
    African Refugees in the Americas
    American Refugees in the Americas

    Chapter 3. Nation-States and the Refugee Crises of the Great War
    The Invention of Nation-States
    Multiethnic Empires during the Rise of Nation-States
    The Refugee Crises of World War I
    Refugees Crises after World War I

    Chapter 4. Self-Determination, Decolonization, and Asia's Postwar Refugee Crises
    The Emergence of Nationalisms in Colonial Palestine
    Refugee Crisis in Israel/Palestine
    The Emergence of Nationalisms in Colonial India
    Refugee Crisis in India/Pakistan

    Chapter 5. The Many Africas and Refugee Crises in Algeria, Uganda, and the Great Lakes
    Decolonization and the Refugee Crises of the Algerian War
    Decolonization, Africanization, and the Expulsion of Uganda's Asians
    Racialized Politics and Refugee Crises around Africa's Great Lakes



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