RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017

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318 Negotiating Brexit: migrant spatialities and identities in a changing Europe (2): Politics of Mobility, Citizenship and Belonging
Affiliation Population Geography Research Group
Convenor(s) Naomi Tyrrell (Plymouth University, UK)
David McCollum (University of St Andrews, UK)
Kate Botterill (Edinburgh Napier University, UK)
Andrew Wooff (Edinburgh Napier University, UK)
Chair(s) Naomi Tyrrell (Plymouth University, UK)
Timetable Friday 01 September 2017, Session 2 (11:10 - 12:50)
Room Sherfield/SALC Building, Pippard Lecture Theatre
Session abstract On June 23rd 2016, Britain voted to leave the European Union (EU). While immigration was only one of the factors in the vote to leave, the referendum on Britain’s membership has exposed divisions within communities across the UK over the pace and scope of demographic and political change (Harris and Charlton, 2016). Moreover, a spike in racial hate crime across the UK against migrants following the vote has raised concerns for the security and wellbeing of EU and non-EU migrants. Beyond the UK, the geopolitical tremors of the Brexit vote still resonate and there are wide-ranging implications for migration patterns and processes at a range of scales and locations (Portes and Forte, 2016). Furthermore, the discourse of a ‘migration crisis’ following population displacement and refugee arrivals in the EU continues to shape perceptions and experiences of migrant bodies and has generated diverse responses within communities across Europe (Ansems de Vries et al. 2016; Freeman, 2016). Migrants have been the subject of much of these debates, yet their perspectives and experiences of negotiating everyday life in this context remain unexplored. This session aims to decolonize the debate on Brexit and international migration by facilitating an interdisciplinary, critical dialogue. The contributions in these sessions explore how international migrants (EU and non-EU) are affected, materially and emotionally, by Brexit. In particular, the papers explore how Brexit is affecting transnational mobility and identities; how the politics of citizenship and belonging are being negotiated; and the impacts of Brexit on migrant relationships, integration and security.

Note: Naomi Tyrrell will be chairing this session; David McCollum will be chairing Session 1
Linked Sessions Negotiating Brexit: migrant spatialities and identities in a changing Europe (1): Transnational mobility, materiality and emotion
Negotiating Brexit: migrant spatialities and identities in a changing Europe (3): Everyday Relations, Integration and Securities
Contact the conference organisers to request a change to session or paper details: AC2017@rgs.org
Moving in, moving on, or wait and see: the reaction of East European migrants in London to the unfolding realities of Brexit
Russell King (University of Sussex, UK)
Aija Lulle (University of Sussex, UK)
Laura Morosanu (University of Sussex, UK)
We present some results from new empirical research on young-adult East Europeans who migrated to Britain since 2004, carried out as part of the H2020 YMOBILITY project on European Youth Mobilties. A first round of 65 interviews (roughly equally divided between Latvians, Slovaks and Romanians, between students, low- and high-skilled workers, and between men and women) was carried out in the months leading up to the referendum; nearly all anticipated a ‘remain’ result. Quota-samples of 8-10 migrants in each national group were then re-interviewed in late 2016 and early 2017, post-Brexit. We use the theoretical notions of ‘voiceless politics’, ‘tactics of belonging’ and ‘liquid migration’ to explore different collective narrative responses. ‘Voiceless politics’ reflects the irony of the research participants’ exclusion from the right to vote in the referendum, despite the centrality of immigration to the popular debate surrounding Brexit. ‘Tactics of belonging’ sums up the reaction of those participants who stressed their ‘right to stay’ through their contribution to the economy and their progressive feeling at home in Britain. For others, the referendum result reinforced their feelings of ‘not belonging’ and hastened their plans to return-migrate, or, alternatively, move on to another European country – an evocation of ‘liquid migration’. Most, however, adopted a wait-and-see stance, keeping their mobility options open for the future.
Agency, politics and Brexit: political representations of international student mobility in the UK
Allan Findlay (University of St Andrews, UK)
Laura Prazeres (University of Dundee, UK)
The UK is considered a 'world-class' destination for higher education and one of the top receiving countries for international students. Yet, Brexit has raised several concerns about the future of international student mobility in Britain. With the decision to include international students within net migration numbers, international student mobility appears to be already showing the effects of recent and anticipated policy changes. International students have been a target (and arguably a scapegoat) in the UK government’s immigration discourses as well as in the rhetoric of the leave campaign. That, coupled with the removal of the post-study work visa, has likely contributed to dwindling numbers of student applicants from within and outside the EU. Drawing on (im)migration debates from the House of Commons since January 2016, this paper investigates how international student mobility is represented pre- and post-referendum within parliamentary debates. It also examines whether universities, students and different political actors have agency within the Brexit migration policy context. In doing so, we consider the implications of Brexit on international students and argue for a better set of instruments within a policy tool kit for understanding the meanings and motivations of international students in the UK.
EU Nationals in the UK: Challenges and Perceptions of Belonging
Ronald Ranta (Kingston University, UK)
Nevena Nancheva (Kingston University, UK)
EU citizenship is triggered by an element of cross-border mobility within the EU (Currie 2008), which underpins the legal status, entitlements and experiences of EU migrants. But how do individual EU migrants within a specific national context translate EU citizenship into a personally relevant category of belonging? The purpose of this paper is to identify the perceptions and the challenges that shape the sense of belonging of EU migrants within the context of the UK. Belonging here is interrogated as membership as well as ownership of a particular social space (Geddes and Favell 1999: 25, 34). This means that the category of belonging is examined both in the informal acceptance and recognition that it implies but also in the formal status that it acknowledges. Belonging captures the complex dynamics of inclusion and exclusion that always accompany migration and is also inherent in the category of citizenship (Kofman 1995: 121).

The paper aims to explore the following dimensions of belonging:
1. Informal dimension
- Self-reflection on identity, membership, commitment, loyalty, common purpose;
- External feedback on identity, membership, commitment, loyalty, common purpose;
2. Formal dimension
- Self-reflection on status, entitlements, experiences;
- External feedback on status, entitlements, experiences
'What have I done to deserve this?’ Young Italian migrants in Britain narrate their reaction to Brexit and plans for the future
Caterina Mazzilli (University of Sussex, UK)
Russell King (University of Sussex, UK)
If the Brexit result of June 2016 was a surprise to most of the British population, including the leading Brexiteers themselves, it came as even more of a shock to the 3 million or so EU migrants living in the UK. In this paper we chronicle the reactions of young, mostly highly-educated Italians living in London and Brighton. The paper is an offshoot of the H2020 YMOBILITY project on Youth Mobilities in Europe. For this presentation we focus on a rolling programme of interviews with young Italians: 20 were interviewed in late 2015 and early 2016, pre-Brexit; 8 of these were re-interviewed in late 2016, post-Brexit; and another 6 were new interviewees, interviewed in early 2017. Reactions to the unexpected result stressed the general themes of ‘stupidity’ on the part of the British electorate, hypocrisy and deceit on the part of the politicians, and a reinforcement of the realisation that Britain fosters an image of itself different from the rest of Europe (nostalgia for the British empire etc.). Interviewees felt upset and victimised - ‘they don’t want us’. Yet, living in multicultural London or ‘green’ Brighton, they also realised that they inhabited a different socio-political environment than most of the rest of the country. Regarding plans for the future, a common reaction was to see Brexit as an extra incentive to leave, which many of them intended to do anyway, sooner or later.