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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Liminal Lives: Navigating In-Betweenness in the Case of Bulgarian and Italian Migrants in Brexiting Britain

Abstract

The UK's decision to leave the EU illustrates some of the tensions embedded in European integration, enabling us to examine how nationalism and cosmopolitanism operate simultaneously, thus reinforcing each other. Furthermore, the prolonged Brexit negotiations have created a climate of protracted insecurity where the only certainty is uncertainty. This is particularly reflected in the migratory experiences of European citizens currently residing in the UK. Academic research has begun exploring the affective impact of Brexit; however, little is known about how processes of connection and disconnection operate simultaneously, nor which coping strategies European migrants have employed to navigate this state of in-betweenness. Using the anthropological notion of liminality as a lens, we draw on participant observation and semi-structured interviews to explore the experiences of Brexit and the coping practices of a range of (new) Bulgaria and (old) Italian European migrants. We argue that Brexit results in a loss of frames of reference for European migrants in the UK - which can be both liberating and unsettling, depending on migrants' positioning as unequal EU subjects as well as their views on the nature of their future re-incorporation in post-Brexit Britain.

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Journal

Central and Eastern European Migration Review

Authors

Elena Genova (United Kingdom)
Elisabetta Zontini (United Kingdom)

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