Defining boundaries: European volunteer worker women in Britain and narratives of community

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Abstract

This article looks at the recruitment of European Volunteer Workers (EVWs) from displaced persons camps in Europe to the British labour market in the late 1940s under a government scheme. Officially portrayed as 'suitable immigrants', EVWs occupied a position on the borderline between all those considered 'undesirable' immigrants and dominant white ethnicities in Britain. The article explores the significance of gender to the ways in which the boundaries of national belonging were defined, and the notion of the 'suitable immigrant'. It draws on oral testimonies from women who came to Britain as EVWs, reviewing their themes of loss through deportation, dispossession, displacement and exile. In considering the ways in which EVW women negotiated identities in Britain, the article looks at narrators' accounts of the boundaries of belonging, their emphasis on the formation of family life and communities in Britain, and the role that oral history projects may play in framing notions of community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)257-276
Number of pages20
JournalWomen's History Review
Volume9
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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