‘Brexit blues’
in French London
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The Epilogue re-addresses questions raised in the initial ethnography but from a post-EU-referendum perspective. Returning to the original sites of research and (re)engaging with existing and new participants, it asks whether their sense of belonging, identity and future mobility projects have been affected by the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. It continues to draw on Bourdieusian theory, particularly hysteresis and symbolic violence concepts, to ascertain if and how participants’ migrancy habitus has been disrupted by ‘Brexit’. With an emphasis on the affective experience of the EU-membership referendum and emulating the structure of the book, the Epilogue covers three timeframes. It first ‘looks back’, examining memories of June 2016 and participants’ initial reaction to the referendum. It then ‘looks in’, seeking insights into their emotional response at the time of writing in 2019. It finally ‘looks beyond’ to explore their longer-term plans. From sentiments of loss, sorrow and anger typical of grieving to a sense of dis-embedding, or ‘inverse hysteresis’, caused by the sudden change to their status, the migrants describe intense feelings of helplessness, outsiderness and un-belonging. The chapter argues that, consistent with the symbolic violence paradigm, participants are keen to dismiss post-2016 xenophobic aggressions as unimportant or partly self-inflicted. A recurrent process of denial is consequently ascertained, resulting in apathy and resignation in the face of Brexit’s disquieting impact and the ironically named ‘Settlement Scheme’. Ultimately, however, the migrants convey a profound sense of sadness that the land which had once wooed them was now rejecting them.

French London

A blended ethnography of a migrant city


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