History and Philosophy double major Wendi Zhou received the 2021 Excellence in Scholarship Holocaust Paper Prize. The Excellence in Scholarship Paper Prize is awarded annually by the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies to honor an outstanding undergraduate student paper that critically engages with the central themes, lessons and ideas of the Holocaust.
In the award-winning paper, titled “‘Shouldering Their Responsibilities’: Critical Refugee Studies and European Jewish Refugees in Shanghai, 1938-1945,” Zhou looks at representations of Jewish refugees in Shanghai through the end of World War II. Countering perceptions of refugees as helpless and passive, Zhou uses the “Critical Refugee Studies” model originated by sociologist Yen Le Espiritu to examine refugees’ experiences in Shanghai’s Hongkew District from 1938-1945. In contrast to reports that emphasized refugees’ poverty and desperation, intended to evoke pity and inspire charitable donations overseas, Zhou examines interviews and writings by members of the Hongkew community that speak to refugees’ resilience and agency.