Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit
Legal integration and the reconfiguration of identifications: material and symbolic effects of Brexit on British nationals in Berlin
Freedom of Movement is at the heart of European citizenship. It provides intra-European migrants with flexibility and dis-incentivizes from acquiring the nationality of another EU country. Through Brexit, British nationals lose their European citizenship and their right to free movement. Based on in-depth interviews with British `middling migrants' in Berlin, the paper examines the material and symbolic effects of Brexit, as experienced in the period from the referendum to the Withdrawal Agreement. I analyse the changes that are Brexit, particularly the `return' of legal integration, and the reconfiguration of spatial identifications. To secure the right to stay put in Berlin and to remain mobile within the EU, the respondents resorted to legal mechanisms, applying for citizenship or a residence permit. Symbolically, we observe a reconfiguration of spatial identification, whereby belonging to the nation decreased, and feelings of belonging to Europe increased. Brexit is a defeat, which strengthens the significance of `Europe' for social identification, as it stands for values such ascosmopolitanism and openness to diversity. Brexit thus imbues the traditionally fuzzy idea of Europeanness with meaning. The material and symbolic also effects express the respondents' relatively privileged status, both in terms of class and ethnic/racial background.
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