Stuck in Limbo: EU-citizens in the UK and Brexit
(University of Oxford)
Paper short abstract:
Since the Brexit vote, EU-migrants living in the UK are stuck in a state of limbo as they await confirmation of their future status. The paper focuses on "In Limbo", a campaign group maintaining an archive of EU-citizens' testimonials, to discuss the experience of being stuck on shifting ground.
Paper long abstract:
Britain's momentous decision to leave the EU has irreversibly altered the way EU-citizens in the UK understand their past, present and future. The UK government's assertion that "nothing will change" for them sharply contrasts with the realities of the proposed future immigration system, the deliberately introduced "hostile environment" for migrants, and a sharp rise in hate-crime against anyone perceived to be foreign. Moreover, many EU-citizens are struggling with a shattered sense of identity and belonging, while the ongoing legal uncertainty makes envisioning the future extremely difficult. Many experience themselves as being stuck in a state of Limbo - a sense of altered temporality (Knight 2017) between a lost past and a not-yet imagined future. However, this experience has also given rise to new collective identities and practices. While-pre referendum, EU-citizens rarely thought of themselves as a distinct group, the shared experience of being 'unsettled in place' has prompted them to come together and organize. This paper focuses on 'In Limbo', a migrant-led campaign group that collects testimonials from EU-citizens affected by Brexit, and has published them in a book of the same name (Remigi 2017). Initially intended as a documentary archive, the book has sparked public events, has served as information for British friends and family, and has been gifted to politicians and decision-makers as a material artifact representing the the anguish of being stuck on shifting ground. The paper will trace the story of 'In Limbo" from its beginnings as an online community to its current work.
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