The BrExpats project team builds on the longstanding collaboration between Dr Michaela Benson and Professor Karen O’Reilly, leading scholars in the field of research on UK citizens who have made their homes and lives elsewhere in the EU. They have a combined total of 40 years experience conducting research with and writing about UK citizens who have made their homes and lives in France and Spain. 

Dr Michaela Benson is the project lead and a sociologist based at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her responsibilities on the project include, primary research with UK Citizens living in the Lot and Toulouse, project management and coordination, and hosting the project podcast.

Michaela is internationally renowned for her research with UK citizens living in rural France, conducting research and writing on this topic since the early 2000s. She  is particularly interested in themes of identity, citizenship and belonging. This research has featured in the media and on BBC Radio 4’s flagship social science programme, Thinking Allowed. 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).

The following list of publications represents just some of her writing in this area:

Benson, M., 2016, Deconstructing Belonging in Lifestyle Migration: Tracking the Emotional Negotiations of the British in Rural France European Journal of Cultural Studies 19(5): 481-494.

Benson, M., 2013, Living the ‘Real’ Dream in la France profonde? Lifestyle migration, Social Distinction, and the Authenticities of Everyday LifeAnthropological Quaterly 86(2), 501-526.

Benson, M., 2012, How culturally-significant imaginings are translated into lifestyle migrationJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies 38(10): 1681-1696.

Benson, M., 2011, The movement beyond (lifestyle) migration: mobile practices and the constitution of a better way of life, Mobilities, 6 (2): 221-235.

Benson, M., 2011, The British in Rural France: Lifestyle Migration and the Ongoing Quest for a Better Way of Life, Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Benson, M., 2010, Landscape, Imagination and Experience: Processes of Emplacement among the British in Rural France, The Sociological Review 58(s2): 61–77

Benson, M., 2010, The context and trajectory of lifestyle migration: the case of the British residents of southwest FranceEuropean Societies,12(1): 45-64.

Professor Karen O’Reilly 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., 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.

O’Reilly, K., C. Oliver, 2010, A Bourdieusian Analysis of Class and Migration: habitus and the individualising processSociology, 44(1): 49-66.

O’Reilly, K., 2007, Intra-European Migration and the Mobility-Enclosure DialecticSociology, 41: 277-293.

O’Reilly, K., 2003, When is a tourist? The Articulation of Tourism and Migration in Spain’s Costa del SolTourist Studies, 3(3): 301-317.

O’Reilly, K., 2002, Britain in Europe/The British in Spain. Exploring Britain’s changing relationship to the otherNations and Nationalism, 8(2): 179-194.

O’Reilly, K., 2000, The New Europe/ Old Boundaries: British migrants in SpainJournal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 22 (4): 477-491.

O’Reilly, K., 2000, The British on the Costa del Sol: transnational identities and local communities, London: Routledge.

Dr Katherine Collins is the research associate on the project. Her primary responsibility is the design and organisation of the citizens’ panel where UK citizens from around the EU27 can feed into the project on a rolling basis. 

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.

Chantelle Lewis also joins the team as a researcher. Her role includes the examination of when and how UK citizens living abroad are represented and discussed in parliamentary proceedings. She will also be working to increase the representation of UK citizens of colour on our citizens’ panel.

Chantelle is a PhD candidate in the Sociology department at Goldsmiths, where she is researching mixedness in British monocultures. She is also the co-host of the Surviving Society Podcast—essential listening for anyone who wants to understand what sociology can offer to understanding contemporary issues. She holds a BA in Sociology from Loughborough University and an MA in Culture, Ethnicity and Diaspora from Birkbeck.  She comes to the project having recently completed a research placement at the British Library on the institution’s lack of inclusion of writers and activists of colour.

Mike Danby also joins the team as the project research intern. He will be conducting primary research about what Brexit means to UK citizens living in and around Granada—with a particular focus on people under the age of 35—and blogging about his experience of moving to Spain.

He is a recent graduate in BA Sociology from Goldsmiths. Having lived previously in Spain, teaching English he has just moved to Granada, Andalusia.