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Theoretical and methodological starting points
Sarah Kunz

Chapter 1 situates this study of the category expatriate within migration research on expatriates and privileged migration, before outlining recent scholarship on the coloniality of migration and mobility, and introducing interdisciplinary perspectives on social categories. The chapter thus introduces debates that this book centrally speaks to, and which have helped in thinking about the ‘categorical’ ordering of movement and belonging as a site where power is negotiated. The chapter then outlines the research strategy of following the expatriate and introduces the three sites visited for this research.

in Expatriate
Sarah Kunz

Chapter 2 discusses the use and contestation of the category expatriate in the archive of Kenyan independence. Specifically, it looks at the transformation of the colonial civil service into a national Kenyan civil service and the associated transformation of colonial civil servants into either ‘local’ or ‘expatriate’ officers. The chapter traces how the term expatriate was used to reproduce white privilege and British influence in the post-colonial period. As such, the expatriate was key to British international development aid, understood to be a tool for retaining global influence in a bipolar world, and indirectly helped entrench inequality in the Kenyan civil service and Kenyan society. Yet, if the category expatriate was used to translate colonial into postcolonial racism, it did so without relying explicitly on ‘race’, as racism was increasingly enunciated through a lexicon of culture and through economistic ‘logic’ and ‘common sense’.

in Expatriate
Abstract only
Sarah Kunz

The introduction establishes the key aims and arguments of the book and provides an outline of the different chapters. It introduces the three key sites to which the book follows the expatriate to tell situated stories of the category’s history and politics, its making and remaking, contestation and lived experience: international human resource management literature, the Expatriate Archive Centre in The Hague, and Nairobi, Kenya. In following the expatriate, the book traces the category’s postcolonial history and presence from mid-twentieth-century political decolonisation to today’s politics of migration. The book shows the expatriate to be a malleable and mobile category, of shifting meaning and changing membership. It is also a contested category, as passionately embraced by some as it is rejected by others. Finally, it can be a surprising category, doing unexpected work, effective in ways that are not determined. Yet, throughout its meanderings and disputes, the expatriate proves consistently central to struggles over inequality, power and social justice.

in Expatriate
Sarah Kunz

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’.

in Expatriate
From company wife to global citizen
Sarah Kunz

Chapter 4 traces the transformation of Royal Dutch Shell’s expatriate at the turn of the twenty-first century. In the mid-1990s, in the context of a broader corporate restructure and in response to gendered challenges to its management model, Shell enacted a neoliberal reform of its system of expatriation and introduced a diversity agenda. It transformed its expatriates from loyal ‘Shell families’ that migrated within the ‘Shell world’ into individualised and flexible mobile workers circulating within a global labour market. This reform, however, did not change the patriarchal constitution of the Shell expatriate, or decolonise this managerial institution. Meanwhile, a group of ‘Shell wives’ founded the Shell Ladies’ Project to collect their own memories and position themselves as expatriates in their own right. The Shell Ladies’ Project and its subsequent development into an independent archive of expatriate social history mirrors organisational and societal trends in the gradual transmutation of women’s identity, from the company-rooted ‘Shell wife’ into the ‘global expat’ at the heart of globalisation. Chapter 4 thus traces, through the transforming Shell expatriate, the fashioning of neoliberal forms of elite migration and its ideological ideal-type: the transnational professional, commanding a global consciousness and skill set, moving self-directed and flexibly, at home in the world.

in Expatriate
Academic divisions of (skilled) labour
Sarah Kunz

Chapter 7 discusses recent debates in international human resource management (IHRM) literature on alternatives to the ‘traditional expatriate’, particularly ‘self-initiated expatriates’, ‘inpatriates’ and ‘migrants’. The chapter interrogates these new categories of IHRM literature and notes a ‘selective flexibility’ that stretches the category expatriate in ways that reproduce the inequalities that already underwrote the ‘traditional expatriate’. Still, power and inequality are frequently evaded in seemingly technical debates about the proper boundaries of analytical categories. The chapter then traces how migration studies turned to study expatriates as high-powered corporate migrants within a framework of (highly) skilled migration. This expatriate, the chapter argues, stands in marked contrast to the usual migrant in migration studies. The chapter finds that much research on migration collectively, if inadvertently, helps to reproduce popular imaginations of migrants as the global racialised poor, and thus actively participates in postcolonial governance through migration. From this vantage point, methodological nationalism can be understood as a racialised technology of governance with an imperial genealogy. Finally, the chapter examines the relationship of IHRM and migration studies, their mutual disregard and shared silences. The chapter argues that colonial aphasia not only shapes their quite closely aligned ‘typical’ expatriates and migrants, but underwrites their very academic disconnection and division of labour – i.e. colonial aphasia is at work in the very constitution of the two fields as separate fields.

in Expatriate
Sarah Kunz

Chapter 3 traces the emergence of the expatriate in 1960s and 1970s anglophone international human resource management (IHRM) literature, a burgeoning academic field that accompanied the US ascendancy of its day. IHRM scholarship recognised the seminal challenge of decolonisation and, the chapter argues, academics self-consciously carved out their role and relevance in the post-war US imperial project. They did so by positioning the expatriate as a vital yet troublesome figure of multinational business that needed to be carefully selected, thoroughly trained, cautiously positioned, appropriately compensated and successfully repatriated – all of which required the support of scholarship. This also involved translating discourses of white supremacy and the immature native into management knowledge to sanctify the asymmetrical power relations that characterised multinational business. This history is rendered invisible by more recent IHRM literature that largely ignores the imperial roots of its research object and of its own role as knowledge producer.

in Expatriate
Abstract only
The Kent variant
Phil Hubbard

This brief afterword considers the conjunction of the ‘migrant crisis’, Brexit negotiations and COVID-19 at the Kent coast. Noting that COVID-19 ushered in new forms of exclusionary nationalism and populism, this chapter suggests that the events of the winter of 2020–21 further positioned the Kent coast as a bulwark against threats to the ‘island-nation’. However, it notes that some of the initial explanations for the emergence of the alpha (Kent) COVID-19 variant, such as the influence of refugees, were misplaced, and that the fast transmission of the new variant is best understood in relation to the socially divided nature of the Kent coast.

in Borderland
Abstract only
Phil Hubbard

This chapter explores the identity of Margate, alighting on sights that reveal its former role as a centre of mass tourism but that now appear ‘out of time’. Noting that images of disinvestment and abandonment have consolidated the representation of Margate as something of a ‘dumping ground’ for the socially vulnerable and those on welfare, it examines the way that recent gentrification and reinvestment has exposed social divisions of class in the town, which have often been articulated through the politics of migration and nationalism. Here, it suggests that depictions of Margate, and the wider Isle of Thanet, as a stronghold of pro-Brexit voters is overly simplistic, but notes the continual circulation of ideas of Englishness and whiteness in the town. The chapter concludes by exploring the significance of the public art in the town, which rejects exclusionary nationalism in favour of a more cosmopolitan sense of place.

in Borderland
Abstract only
Phil Hubbard

This chapter considers the traces of refugee arrival and integration at the Kent coast, focused on Hythe and Folkestone. It contrasts the accommodation given to Vietnamese ‘boat people’ in the 1970s and 1980s at Moyle Tower, Hythe, with the incarceration of more recent asylum seekers and undocumented migrants at Napier Barracks, Folkestone. Considering the ethics and politics of hospitality, the chapter suggests that the ongoing attempts to discourage and prevent migrant crossings of the Channel are indicative of the rise of the ‘island thinking’ that has accompanied Brexit, fuelled by negative representations of refugees as economic migrants. The chapter concludes by noting the opposition to these dominant representations which is articulated via local public art, suggesting that a careful reading of the local landscape reveals the positive contribution that successive waves of migrants have made to the life of towns, which have been indelibly shaped by arrivals and departures.

in Borderland