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An illegal history of journeys to Australia

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‘Louis was an agent of conspiracy, a “people trafficker”, helping the captive and the helpless negotiate a precarious avenue to freedom. He was, I believe, genuinely on our side and, to this day, remains a hero for me.’ — Les Murray, sports commentator and ‘Soccer King’

People smugglers are the pariahs of the modern world. There is no other trade so demonised and, yet at the same time, so useful to contemporary Australian politics. But beyond the rhetoric lies a rich history that reaches beyond the maritime borders of our island continent and has a longer lineage than the recent refugee movements of the twenty-first century. Smuggled recounts the journeys to Australia of refugees and their smugglers since the Second World War — from Jews escaping the Holocaust, Eastern Europeans slipping through the Iron Curtain, ‘boat people’ fleeing the Vietnam War to refugees escaping unthinkable violence in the Middle East and Africa.

Based on original research and revealing personal interviews, Smuggled marks the first attempt to detach the term ‘people smuggler’ from its pejorative connotations, and provides a compelling insight into a defining yet unexplored part of Australia’s history.

Smuggled is a pioneering work in Australian immigration history. The history of illegal journeys is a topic rarely discussed let alone researched in any depth. The powerful stories recounted in this compelling book about people smuggling write a new chapter in the history of displacement through the extraordinary experiences of courage, survival and resilience. It is inspiring research which transforms our understanding of the history of migration to Australia through an evocative new lens.’ — Professor Joy Damousi, Australian Catholic University

Smuggled is an enthralling book. Each chapter is a short story of a separate and unique journey to safety; dangerous, desperate and daring. Each story adds to our understanding of a smuggler as a person who is often so much more than an unscrupulous criminal. They are frequently skilled facilitators, brave guides and caring escorts. They range from diplomats to simple villagers. It may suit some politicians to colour smugglers as money hungry crooks, but without their help, the refugees in this book, and most refugees in general, would never have made it to Australia to build worthwhile lives. Smuggled is a new, important way to tell our migration history, and is a fascinating read.’ — Andrew and Renata Kaldor, Advisory Committee, Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law

‘A combination of engaging stories and astute analysis, Smuggled is a timely corrective to the simplistic portrayal of people smugglers as evil scum. Some smugglers may be heroes and some may be villains, but to blame them for the suffering of refugees is to deflect from more important concerns, including the oppression that drives people from their homes and the border controls that force them onto dangerous routes.’ — Peter Mares, The Cranlana Centre for Ethical Leadership