It is probably not by accident that most historiographical treatments of refugees start with more or less elaborate attempts to define what – or who – actually was and is to be understood under this ‘refugee’ label; hardly any other concept in the language of public discourse is more charged with political, moral, and social implications and consequences. At the same time – or even because this term carries so much weight – the delimitations of its applicability on actual migrants are highly fluid at best. Its use in the public sphere is always contested and shaped by often conflicting discursive representations and agendas. This does not make it any easier for historians to explain what they are actually dealing with but makes it even more important to try to introduce some historical reasoning into simplistically historicized debates.