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Who Do We Think We Are?

S2 E8 Who is a migrant?

20 Jan 2023

There is nothing politically neutral about classifying and categorising people as migrants. This is a process through which certain individuals and populations are defined as migrants, whether they have crossed borders or not. It has political consequences and impacts for those who find themselves labelled as such. In this episode we turn to this always-political question to consider what this means for how we study and research migration. Researcher George Kalivis goes back to the 1970s to consider the Grunwick industrial dispute. Presenter Michaela Benson considers what the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system, makes visible about class and migration. And Bridget Anderson Professor of Migration, Mobilities and Citizenship at the University of Bristol joins us to talk about why we need to turn our attention to how the distinctions between citizens and migrants are made and to what ends, and what conceptual tools might be useful in excavating the connections between migrants and citizens as we consider the always-political question ‘Who is a migrant?’


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


In this episode we cover …

1 Migrantisation and racialisation

2 Grunwick Dispute

3 Post-Brexit immigration regime



Given that ‘migrant’ is a social as well as a legal construction, then we as researchers are part of making the subordinated character of the migrants … migrants and migration, migrant and citizenship are not just neutral descriptors, they make power relations between each other and between a person and state.

—Bridget Anderson


Find out more about …

Bridget’s research and the Centre for Migration and Mobilities

Read Bridget’s work on methodological denationalism and migrantisation

We also recommend Alyosxa Tudor’s work on racialisation and migratisation

Michaela’s research on Brexit and the stratification of British people in France

The Grunwick industrial dispute from the Working Class Movement Library and the Striking Women Module


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