Welcome to the H-Net cross-network project “Refugees in African History!”
According to the UNHCR there were 79,5 million forcibly displaced people worldwide, among them 26 million registered refugees in 2019 alone. About 30% of the world’s displaced people are being hosted in Africa. Yet, those Africans who make their way to Europe dominate discussions in the global North. “Fortress Europe” is pulling up its bridge and migrants are demonized as a security threat and burden on the welfare state. Public discourse overwhelmingly portrays African (forced) migrants as victims or perpetrators, but rarely paints a more nuanced picture of the reasons and motives of African refuge-seekers and the global and regional interrelated structures that drive processes of refuge seeking. Therefore the historical study of refuge seeking becomes imperative to help us understand long-term trends and a historically grown approach to mobility in Africa and beyond. The topic will stay with us for many years to come.

Why this cross-network project?
The aim of this cross-network is to link members, discussions and resources on H-Africa with those on H-Migration where they concern the history of refuge seeking across Africa and beyond. It is dedicated to a historical perspective on refuge seeking in Africa as well as to and from the African continent. While maintaining a historical focus, we also welcome interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary discussions that contribute to a broader understanding of the history of refuge seeking on the continent. We do not set temporal limits; pre-colonial perspectives are just as welcome as those on recent developments. We also aim at being inclusive, so no matter whether you are an academic, a practitioner or a refugee please browse and contribute.

How can you engage?

This space serves to facilitate the sharing of information concerning research, teaching and discussions on refugees in African history. Are you looking to share a conference call or a call for papers? Would you like to ask colleagues for fieldwork tips? Are you preparing a new course and would like to get inspired by different syllabi? Or would you like to stay in touch with the latest developments in the field by browsing our book review section?  We invite you to look at our resources on offer and help us build them further. This cross-network space lives from the contributions of its members as it seeks to foster an international, virtual space for engagement and the exchange of information.

Once you have become a subscriber to the cross-network, you can share an interesting thought, input or file in the Discussions tab by clicking the orange button “Start a Discussion” at the bottom of the home page. Or you can upload a resource by clicking the button “Upload a resource” at the bottom right of the home page. Simply upload your resource and add as the keyword the exact name of the subcategory you'd like to add it to (for example, "Multimedia and Teaching Materials"). In both cases, make sure “Refugees in African History” is selected as your Network. Or you can simply email us your contribution to: africanrefugees@mail.h-net.org


How to navigate the site?

The page consists of several tabs where you can find and contribute to building a pool of helpful resources and tools for the study of refugees in African history:

Home page - On this home page, you can find the most recent discussion contributions to “Refugees in African History” from all around the H-Networks on the topic of refugees in African history, but particularly H-Africa, H-Migration and H-Announcement.  Discussion contributions will include things such as calls for papers, fellowships, conference announcements, queries or questions to the community etc.

Discussion tab - In this space, you are welcome to post announcements, ask questions, share information or spark a conversation.

Review tab – The review tab will take you to a selection of reviews that were written on the topic of refugees and Africa.

Resources tab – In this section, you will encounter a collection of resources useful to the study of refugees in African history. These include resources useful for teaching (syllabi, teaching materials, literary or film suggestions etc.), research (notes on methodology, bibliographies, quarterly bulletin of new academic works, conference notes, theses and dissertations in process etc.) and general interest in the topic (links to blogs and other websites of interest).

Links tab - You can find a compilation of all the links shared across the cross-network in this section.

Blogs tab - This section welcomes blog posts that will be published within the cross-network community. They are open to comments and replies and can constitute the beginning of fruitful exchanges of ideas.



And last but not least, who is behind this?

We are a group of volunteers consisting of Keren Weitzberg, editor at H-Africa, Jochen Lingelbach, editor at H-Migration, and six advisory board members: Christian Williams, Alfred Tembo, Magnus Treiber, Jill Rosenthal, George Njung, and Aderito Machava. Together we are representing seven different countries in Africa, Europe and North America. This page grew out of an explorative workshop, organized by Marcia C. Schenck, “Rethinking Refuge: Processes of Refuge Seeking in Africa and Beyond” at the Forum for Transnational Studies in Berlin in June 2019. Marcia C. Schenck is the project coordinator for the cross-network “Refugees in African History” and Johanna Wetzel is an editor for the cross-network page.


Image by Africa Centre for Strategic Studies, 2019

Recent from African Refugees Crossroads

ToC: *Open Access* Africa Today Special Issue on "Rethinking Refuge: Processes of Refuge Seeking in Africa"


Africa Today's Special Issue on Rethinging Refuge is out and open access! Congratulations to all contributors and the editors!

"This special issue, 'Rethinking Refuge,' therefore dives into the history of refuge seeking by Africans on the continent and beyond and, interestingly, of Europeans in Africa, precisely to offer counternarratives to the single-story mediatized depictions of African refugees to which we have become accustomed.

New Edited Volume: Navigating Socialist Encounters: Moorings and (Dis)Entanglements between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War

We're excited for all the contributers to this fabulous new edited volume: Navigating Socialist Encounters: Moorings and (Dis)Entanglements between Africa and East Germany during the Cold War is full of migration history to, from and within the African continent.

Resource for academic networking: IASFM compiled a list of Forced Migration Studies Networks on their website

Dear Refugees in African History Community, please see below an announcement shared by the IASFM about a list of Forced Migration Studies Networks that they are working on. To see the most updated version, please follow the link below:


Dear IASFM members and forced migration studies community

Subscribe to African Refugees Crossroads: Reviews

Around the Commons

Call To Participate in a Workshop On Rethinking Knowledge Politics In Migration Research, Teaching & Practice

Recently, there has been a proliferation of representations of refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants waiting at land, sea as well as air border crossings headed towards Europe. These groups are often framed in highly emotive language that associates them with threats, or portrayed as either tragic or miserable, or as the exemplary citizen. There has also been an increase in emphasis on normative concepts such as ‘safe, orderly and regular migration’ in contemporary migration debates and policies; over and above already established ones such as ‘integration’.