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The story of how British citizenship developed and why this matters for questions of race, migration and belonging in 'Global Britain'

Hosted and produced by Michaela Benson.

Cover Art: George Kalivis

Production and post-production: Art of Podcast 

Jul 7, 2023

Understandings of migration are invariably reduced to immigration, framed by the policy agenda of receiving states. But what about the people who leave? And why does it matter that we remember, as French-Algerian sociologist Abdelmalek Sayad stressed, that ‘every immigrant is also an emigrant’?  

From the role of emigration in the making of the British empire and other European colonial powers to its neglect in public and political conversations about migration today, this episode explores what is opened up when we turn the spotlight onto those leaving the sovereign territory of a nation. Elena Zambelli explains what we mean when we talk about emigration. Mukti Jain Campion, founder of the independent production company Culture Wise, reminds us of the relationship between emigration and the making of the British Empire. Nando and Michaela reflect on why we need to talk about emigration today. We look into how states engage with emigration from its role in net migration figures through to policies and concerns over brain drains. And we turn to consider who is leaving Britain today, drawing on what British citizens and EU nationals taking part in our research told us about the significance of Brexit to their emigration decisions 

You can access the full transcripts for each episode over on our website Who do we think we are?  

In this episode we cover …   

  • Emigration and colonisation 

  • Leaving Britain today 

  • Brexit and Brits Abroad 

Active listening questions  

  • Do you have any family members who have emigrated from their country of origin? What do you know about their reasons for leaving? 
  • What do you think understanding emigration can add to our understandings of migration?  
  • What is the relationship between British emigration and British colonialism? And how does this shape the experiences of British citizens emigrating today?
  • What relationship does your country have with its citizens who have moved abroad?  

Hear more from Michaela and Mukti about British emigrants today  

Learn about The Migration Museum’s Departures exhibition  

Explore the Brexit testimonies of British citizens living in the EU 

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