Sarah Kunz
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Making international expats in Nairobi
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Among the various readings of the expatriate today, a key one is ‘the international’, a term often used synonymously with expatriate. Chapter 5 traces the production of this ‘international’ expatriate in the context of Nairobi’s ‘international community’ as assembled and narrated by the expat network InterNations. The chapter discusses how an individual in Nairobi becomes international performatively, through the consumption of casual cross-border mobility, which in the context of uneven border regimes involves the reinterpretation of privilege as achievement. The chapter then examines the uneven social relations and unevenly valued labour that socially reproduces the InterNations community, and discusses how the international community is produced through the everyday racialised, gendered and classed arrangement of bodies in and into Nairobi’s expat hangouts. The expatriate’s international emerges as an imaginary that idealises flux and mobility across a space that remains intensely bordered and ordered along ascribed gendered, classed and racialised schemata. Although the category is diversified in line with broader shifts in local and global power, the normative ideal at the heart of the international expat remains whiteness, imaginatively spatialised as ‘Western’.

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