What does expatriate mean? Who gets described as an expatriate rather than a migrant? And why do such distinctions matter? Following the expatriate explores these questions by tracing the postcolonial genealogy of the category expatriate from mid-twentieth-century decolonisation to current debates about migration, and examining the current stakes of debates about expatriates. As the book shows, the question of who is an expatriate was as hotly debated in 1961 as it is today. Back then, as now, it was entangled in the racialised, classed and gendered politics of migration and mobility. Combining ethnographic and historical research, the book discusses uses of the expatriate across academic literature, corporate management and international development practice, personal memory projects, and urban diaspora spaces in The Hague and Nairobi. It tells situated stories about the category’s making and remaking, its contestation and the lived experience of those labelled expatriate. By attending to racialised, gendered and classed struggles over who is an expatriate, the book shows that migration categories are at the heart of how intersecting material and symbolic social inequalities are enacted today. Any project for social justice thus needs to dissect and dismantle categories like the expatriate, and the book offers innovative analytical and methodological strategies to advance this project.
Since the late 1990s, IHRM literature has noted a diversification of international work and identified a range of alternatives to the ‘traditional expatriate’. Among them, ‘self-initiated expatriates’ are the most widely studied, while ‘inpatriates’ are distinguished from expatriates by their opposite directionality of movement (from subsidiary to headquarters), and debate has arisen over whether (self-initiated) expatriates are ‘migrants’ or not. This chapter interrogates these new categories of IHRM literature and the debates about them, and
the International Centre.
Ed, British citizen living in The Hague, interview, 2021
The Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) is centrally located in The Hague's Archipelbuurt neighbourhood, with its wide avenues and beautiful late nineteenth-century buildings. Here, down a quiet side street and through a door flanked by roses, visitors are led into the bright and welcoming front room of the archive. This archetypically Dutch facade harbours a trove of
highly dispersed concern. This system of migratory management came under pressure by the 1990s, and this chapter examines how the Shell expatriate changed at the turn of the millennium. In doing so, it also traces the broader fashioning of neoliberal elite migration and its ideological ideal-type: the transnational professional, commanding a global consciousness and skill set, self-directed and flexible, at home in the world.
The Shell model: family migration and management
The Group emerged in 1907 from the merger of the Royal
From studying expatriates to studying the category expatriateExpatriates are primarily researched in international human resource management (IHRM) literature and migration studies, two well-established and diverse yet largely separate academic fields. IHRM literature has studied organisational migrants under the rubric of the expatriate since at least the 1960s. Given this historical depth and its volume of publications, IHRM can be seen as the main academic field producing knowledge on expatriates. The principal focus is
certainly share the same fate.
, Management of Personnel Quarterly
In international business, the expatriate is often taken to denote an ‘intracompany assignee’, transferred abroad by their multinational employer for a number of years. Researching these
‘Tarzan is an expatriate’, caricaturing expatriates in East and Central Africa. His expatriate is self-important, obnoxious and, by definition, white in a black country as ‘the old order does not alter, the revolutions change nothing and still to be white is to be right’ (Theroux 1967 :19). Theroux's article documents the persistence of white privilege in post-colonial East Africa and shows the category expatriate to be key to this articulation of whiteness. His scathing commentary is still echoed today. As Fechter ( 2007 :2) writes, ‘the words “colonial” and
In August 1961, at the eve of Kenyan independence, two colonial civil servants, B. D. Pinto and A. J. D’Cunha, wrote in protest to the Chief Secretary of the Colony and Protectorate of Kenya. They decried years of discriminatory treatment of ‘Asian’ civil servants at the hands of the colonial government, which now culminated in being denied the status of expatriate.
As they wrote,
And now to crown it all the term ‘Expatriate
institutionalised inequalities of mobility regimes that often work by logics other than the meritocratic ones professed. Migration categories carry these tensions. They are not technical or neutral but historically produced by and productive of broader power formations. After all, fundamental to the differential treatment of people is their divisioning in such a way that their differential treatment can be justified. Historical inequalities are encapsulated in the potent if not uncontested conceptual disambiguation of the expatriate from its various local and migrant Others in
In 2016, I spent five months in Nairobi to find out how a category like the expatriate is generated and generative in a particular urban setting. To do so, I ethnographically ‘followed’ the category in urban space: I explored who used the category and what expatriate meant to different people, who (was) identified as an expat and how it was narrated, embodied and challenged; what forms of belonging, community and social relations the category engendered; and how it was realised sociospatially. I found expatriate to be a performative and embodied category that was