Unsettling times for a settled population? Polish perspectives on Brexit

sky-blue-flag-polandMany Poles have lived, worked, and settled in the UK for up to 12 years now. Anne White, Professor of Polish Studies at the UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies, says it’s no longer so easy for them to pick up and leave. This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

When I was asked to write a piece about Poles and other EU citizens living in the UK and their perspectives on Brexit, my first thought was that Polish people in the UK are little different from the millions of UK citizens living or travelling to work in other EU countries, or from French, German and other western Europeans living in Britain. All have equal reason to feel horrified by the prospect of Brexit. Continue reading

Some thoughts on the psycho-geography of Europe’s free movement

hoffmannEastern European migration takes place in a very different context than it once did. Eva Hoffman, author and essayist, asks what drives people to leave, and what drives them back again? This piece is part of the UCL European Institute’s commissioning partnership with openDemocracy.

Cross-national movements – as we are all too aware these days – come in different forms and categories, reflected in the various designations we use for those who leave one country for another. There are immigrants and guest workers, refugees and exiles, émigrés and expatriates – terms that point to distinct kinds of social, but also perhaps socio-psychological experience. The different circumstances surrounding individual migration and the wider political or cultural contexts within which it takes place can have enormous practical and psychic repercussions. It matters greatly, for starters, whether you choose to leave or were forced to; it matters whether you’re coming to a new land unprotected and unprovided for, or whether you can expect, or transport, some kind of safety net. For the countries of intake, it matters how many come and what they are able to bring with them, what they need and what they can potentially contribute. Continue reading