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Rebordering Britain & Britons after Brexit

Racism and xenophobia experienced by Polish migrants in the UK before and after Brexit vote

Abstract

In recent years the public discourses on Polish migration in the UK have rapidly turned hostile, especially in the context of economic crisis in 2008, and subsequently after the EU referendum in 2016. While initially Poles have been perceived as a `desirable' migrant group and labelled as `invisible' due to their whiteness, this perception shifted to the representation of these migrants as taking jobs from British workers, putting a strain on public services and welfare. While racist and xenophobic violence has been particularly noted following the Brexit vote, Polish migrants experienced various forms of racist abuse before that. This paper draws on narrative interviews with Polish migrant women illustrating their experiences of racism and xenophobia in Greater Manchester before and after the Brexit vote, and how they make sense of anti-Polish discourses and attitudes. This paper illustrates the importance of the interplay between the media and political discourses, class, race and the local context in shaping relations between Polish migrants and the local population.

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Journal

Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies

Author

Alina Rzepnikowska (United Kingdom)

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