Professor Karen O’Reilly

Most British in Spain did not manage to integrate well, and formed liquid or transient communities that were dissolved on returning home. Nevertheless, some older people have settled into routines and practices that firmly embed them into their Spanish way of life and they cannot imagine returning the UK. Some younger people have integrated so well that their networks of friends and business associates cross national and ethnic boundaries. Organisations have been formed that represent, perpetuate, or are a direct result of the British presence. There is other evidence of long-term effects: more involvement of North Europeans in local politics, more widespread use of English in coastal areas of Spain, little stories of successful mixing, and small glimpses of cultural shifts in the shape of attitudes, expectations, and relationships. 

– O’Reilly, K. (2017) The British on the Costa Del Sol Twenty Years On: A story of liquids and sediments. Nordic Journal of Migration Research, 7(3), 139–147. 

Karen is the Professorial Research Fellow on the project. Her responsibilities on the project include conducting primary research with UK citizens who have made Andalusia their homes and helping with the design of the citizens’ panel.

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 the best known books about this population and dispels many of the myths about Britons living abroad. She 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.

Karen has been writing about her research with the British on the Costa del Sol since the late 1990s! Here’s a selection of the things she has published: 

  • O’Reilly, K. 2017, The British on the Costa Del Sol Twenty Years On: A story of liquids and sediments. Nordic Journal of Migration Research7(3), 139–147. Open access 
  • Olsson, E., & O’Reilly, K. 2017. North-Europeans in Spain: Practices of Community in the Context of Migration, Mobility and Transnationalism. Nordic Journal of Migration Research7(3), 133–138. Open access
  • O’Reilly, K., 2011, “Children’s moving stories: how the children of British lifestyle migrants cope with super-diversity” in Waldren, J., I.M. Kaminski (eds.), Learning from the children: culture and identity in a changing world, Berghahn Books.
  • O’Reilly, K., 2010, “Hosts and Guests, Guests and Hosts: British residential tourism in the Costa del Sol”, in Obrador Pons, P., P. Travlou, M. Crang (eds.) Doing Tourism: A Cultural Approach of Mediterranean Mass Tourism, Ashgate.