Who are expatriates? How do they differ from other migrants? And why should we care about such distinctions? Expatriate: Following a Migration Category (Manchester University Press, 2023) by Dr. Sarah Kunz interrogates the contested category of ‘the expatriate’ to explore its history and politics, its making and lived experience. Drawing on ethnographic and archival research, the book offers a critical reading of International Human Resource Management literature, explores the work and history of the Expatriate Archive Centre in The Hague, and studies the usage and significance of the category in Kenyan history and present-day ‘expat Nairobi’. Doing so, the book traces the figure of the expatriate from the mid-twentieth-century era of decolonisation to today’s heated debates about migration.
The expatriate emerges as a malleable and contested category, of shifting meaning and changing membership, and as passionately embraced by some as it is rejected by others. Dr. Kunz situates the changing usage of the term in the context of social, political and economic struggle and explores the material and discursive work the expatriate performs in negotiating social inequalities and power relations. Migration, the book argues, is a key terrain on which colonial power relations have been reproduced and translated, and migration categories are at the heart of the insidious ways that intersecting material and symbolic inequalities are enacted today. Any project for social justice needs to dissect and interrogate categories like the expatriate, and this book offers analytical and methodical strategies to advance this project.
This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose doctoral work focused on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.
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