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From ‘Expats’ to ‘Migrants’: strategies of resilience among French movers in post-Brexit Manchester’

Brahic, Benedicte and Lallement, Maxime (2020) From ‘Expats’ to ‘Migrants’: strategies of resilience among French movers in post-Brexit Manchester’. Migration and Development, 9 (1). pp. 8-24. ISSN 2163-2324

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As European citizens residing in the United Kingdom, French nationals enjoy rights of free movement and settlement in their host country, which enables and eases life across borders. In addition to minimal migratory restrictions offered by the European Union to its citizens, the majority of French nationals living in the United Kingdom have a positive and privileged experience as ‘movers’, feeling welcome and valued in their country of residence. The onset of the Brexit process poses a threat to the rights of free movements for EU citizens and marks the advent of an ‘openly admitted’ anti-migration climate in the United Kingdom; both have direct implications for movers to the United Kingdom. Based on a series of participant observations and semi-structured interviews, this article explores the reactions, responses and strategies displayed and formulated by French movers in the wake of the Brexit process. This paper participates to the exploration of the complex interactions between the global and the local, the political and the personal. The present study endeavoured to question the meaning of the concept of resilience and the realities it assumes for this once relatively privileged group of movers confronted to sudden and unexpected political change threatening their cross-border lives.

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