Thinking beyond freedom of movement: constellations of privilege in British emigration

The spectre of the Brexit provides an opportunity to think again about the conditions that facilitate British migration to other European countries. Although widely cited as made possible by freedom of movement and the right to reside in other European countries, this paper revisits my research on the British in rural France to think in depth about how we might understand British migration and settlement to Europe whatever the outcome of the EU referendum later this month. While European Union Citizenship is often presented by such lifestyle migrants within their wider claims to belonging—and their rationalisations for living in the French countryside—I argue that their continuing sense of themselves as British communicated through their everyday practices and actions demonstrates the more complex structural conditions and support and promote their migration and settlement. On the basis of this, I introduce constellations of privilege as a new conceptual apparatus to focus how privilege is structured not only in and through European Union membership, but also, among others, through classed and racial formations in the United Kingdom and colonial legacies.

Michaela Benson (Goldsmiths, University of London)