Brexit, Liminality, and Ambiguities of Belonging

French Citizens in London

in Ethnologia Europaea
Deborah Reed-Danahay University at Buffalo, State University of New York

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The Brexit process has affected the lives of “middling” mobile Europeans living in the UK, who have experienced uncertainty as their legal status and social position have shifted. Based on ethnographic research during the years 2015–2020 among French citizens living in London, I draw upon the concepts of liminality, social drama, and precarity to analyze the effects of the unfolding events triggered by the United Kingdom’s 2016 referendum to leave the European Union (Brexit) on their everyday lives and trajectories. Although there is much diversity among the French in London, my longitudinal perspective suggests that the social drama of the Brexit process raises questions about the precarity of the mobile EU middle class and the strength of their European and national affiliations.

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