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In Defence of LearningThe Plight, Persecution, and Placement of Academic Refugees, 1933-1980s$
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Shula Marks, Paul Weindling, and Laura Wintour

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780197264812

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197264812.001.0001

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‘Bending the rules’: South African Refugees in the UK, 1960–1980

‘Bending the rules’: South African Refugees in the UK, 1960–1980

(p.257) 16 ‘Bending the rules’: South African Refugees in the UK, 1960–1980
In Defence of Learning

Shula Marks

British Academy

In this chapter, the author reflects on her long personal association with the Society for the Protection of Science and Learning (SPSL)/Council for Assisting Refugee Academics and many of its South African grantees. The academic refugees who came to the SPSL's notice in the 1960s, specially the South Africans, bent the ‘rules’ and signalled the new ways in which the SPSL was going to have to work in a very changed social and educational environment in Britain, and equally great changes in the nature of the academic refugees. Before the rise of Hitler, German scholars had advanced the frontiers of knowledge in the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. And in many of these fields the Jews of Central Europe had played a crucial role. Increasingly from the 1960s, however, many of the refugee academics to the UK were from the so-called ‘third world’, especially Latin America and countries just emerging from colonialism in Africa. Academic refugees from South Africa formed something of a bridge between the old and the new. While most of the South African grantees were white and from institutions modelled on British universities, they were on the whole younger and less highly qualified than the earlier generation of grantees. The very small number of Africans assisted at this time were in fact far more eminent; significantly, however, they were the very first Africans to be assisted by the Society.

Keywords:   SPSL, third world, academic refugees, South Africans, Council for Assisting Refugee Academics

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