Skip to main content
Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Cultural Precarity: Migrants' Positionalities in the Light of Current Anti-immigrant Populism in Europe


The Brexit referendum was an earthquake to those in otherwise privileged positions: white intra-European migrants. Poles form the largest among these groups in the UK. As much as they are vulnerable to discrimination as non-British citizens, these migrants benefit from their whiteness and European heritage. They are objects of anti-immigrant campaigns, but they are not free of anti-immigrant sentiments and racist attitudes. This article uses the notion of cultural precarity' to highlight their ambivalent positionalities in Britain and how those have been changing since the Brexit vote. Drawing on three studies conducted among Poles in England between 2010 and 2017, it explores how the neoliberal and culturalist logics of belonging determine the migrants' conditions. By applying the lens of cultural precarity', the article is attentive to both to the migrants' vulnerability and the moments of everyday resistance to anti-immigrant populism now at work across Europe. The Brexit case is instructive for other contexts for it demonstrates how migrants construct their own cultural and racial proximity to dominant groups to counter vulnerability and secure inclusion.

You might also be interested in :

State of normality: Transnational migrants' shifting views of state institutions and their obligations
The power of nationalism is evident in how people perceive the world around them as `normal'. A national normality is constituted through education and media but also in everyday encounters with the state or state-regulated institutions in the fields of education, welfare provisions, medical care…
'Uni-Culti' Myths and Liberal Dreams: Brexit and Austerity from the Perspective of Migrants
This chapter discusses the post-Brexit condition from the perspective of the margin: of an outsider to Britain as well as of Britain’s marginal men, migrants from Poland. It considers anti-immigrant populism and austerity as transnational rather than national phenomena. Thereby…


Journal of Intercultural Studies


Article meta

Country / region covered

Population studied

Year of Publication

Source type