The BrExpats project team builds on the longstanding writing collaboration between Dr Michaela Benson and Professor Karen O’Reilly.

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Dr. Michaela Benson is the project lead and a sociologist based at Goldsmiths, University of London. She is renowned for her work on British migration, and has been conducting research and writing on this topic since the early 2000s. In 2011, she published her book The British in Rural France with Manchester University Press, which was shortlisted for the British Sociological Association’s Philip Abrams Memorial Prize (2012). Based on research with Britons living in the Lot, France, it  demonstrates how the pursuit of a better way of life is constitutive of migration and everyday migrant lives; with a focus on imaginations, home and belonging, the book reveals the various ways in which British identities are made anew in this rural French landscape.


Professor Karen O’Reilly is the Professorial Research Fellow on the project. Through her research on British migrants living in Spain in the 1990s, she set the agenda for the sociological study of British migration. This work, published as The British on the Costa del Sol (2000, Routledge) is one of the best known books about this population and dispels many of the myths about Britons living abroad. She has continued her research with this population, and has more recently been complementing this with research on Britons living and working in Malaysia and Thailand. She is also known for her book International Migration and Social Theory (2012, Palgrave) which won the CHOICE outstanding academic title award.

Both Michaela’s and Karen’s research has been published in academic journals, has featured in national newspapers and on BBC Radio 4’s flagship social science programme Thinking Allowed.

K CollinsDr. Katharine Collins is the research associate on the project. She will be working closely with our citizens’ panellists. She brings to the team her particular expertise in the creative and critical practices involved in the writing of obscure and marginalised lives and particularly methodological innovations in practices of participatory writing. She is also a Visiting Scholar at the Oxford Centre for Life-Writing, where she co-ordinates the Life-Writing as Inquiry research strand, and is undertaking a prosopographical survey of British expatriate communities in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, funded by the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.