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Who Do We Think We Are?

S2 E9 East-West inequalities and the remaking of unequal Europeans

17 Feb 2023

Michaela Benson [MB]: Welcome to Who do we think we are? A podcast exploring some of the lesser known stories of British citizenship. I'm Michaela Benson, a sociologist specialising in citizenship, migration and belonging, and your host. Join me over the course of the series, as I debunk some of the taken for granted understandings of citizenship, and examine how this changes our understanding of some of the most pressing issues of our times.

Aleks Lewicki  [AL]: I was born in Silesia, which is a region of Europe's east that has quite a complicated history of shifting boundaries and shifting affiliations of belonging as it's been swallowed by various European imperial projects over the course of its history. So the region itself and you know, the people who've lived there for generations, trouble any sort of form of stable notion of nationality or ethnicity in itself.

MB: In this episode, we're shifting location and perspective as we travel to Europe east. You just heard from our guest, Dr. Alex Lewicki, she's a senior lecturer in sociology and co-director of the Sussex European Institute at the University of Sussex. She's also associate editor for the academic publication, the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Silesia, where she was born and spent the first few years of her life is in the presentday mostly contained within the borders of Poland. But that's not the whole picture. It's in the southwest of the country where the country borders Czechia and Germany. And as Alex's account makes clear, its history challenges any account of stable borders. Alex's account of this region really resonated with me for two reasons. First of all, it's clear that this history has influenced her scholarship in her work on those who migrate from Europe's East. But it's also how the themes in our discussion resonate with so many of those at the heart of the podcast, and in particular racialization, and its intersections with migratisation, and how these are caught up in the production of the capitalist world order past and present. It's just that the lens is a little bit different as in this case, we're looking at how these play out within Europe. We'll hear much more from Alex later in the episode, she'll be explaining to us how those from Europe's east on migratised and how this is visible in the way that politicians and the media represent us. She'll explain why we need to deepen our understandings of this presentday politics of migration, turning towards the making of Europe and its peripheries, and the precarization of labour within its borders. In other words, she's calling for us to turn our attention to how the capitalist world order maps onto Europe and its people. And the inequalities it produces in its wake. She'll also be highlighting why it's important that we consider the structural form that racism takes in how those from Europe's East are racialized, and how this is distinctive in comparison to some of the other forms of racialization that perhaps we're more familiar with. You can check out the Episode notes for links to her recent research on this topic, and much, much more. But before we hear from Alex, I want to give you a sense of what else we've got in store. In my explainer, I briefly explore how Silesia's borders and its national allegiance have changed over time. Just one example of how geopolitical shifts over the course of the 20th century have shaped the distribution of power within Europe today. And George brings us up to date as he goes back to the archive to examine how those countries who were already EU Member States responded to EU enlargement when Poland and nine other countries became a part of the EU in the early 2000s. And he's particularly going to consider how concerns about freedom of movement were caught up in those responses. You're listening to who do we think we are? A podcast all about British citizenship, hosted by me Michaela Benson. If you like what you've heard, and you want to hear more, you can subscribe. And rate us on your preferred podcast platform. The shifting borders of Silesia and what these tell us about the national ownership of the region have been caught up in some of the major moments of 20th century European history. Now, I had to do a bit of digging to find out more about this region. And I came across the work of historian Tomasz Kamusella, in his 2007, book, Silesia and Central European nationalisms, and in this work, he highlights how this was a region contested by German, Czech and Polish nationalisms from the mid 19th century onwards. He highlights in particular how language and culture were at the heart of this. And indeed, we know now from our study of the emergence of nation states and their nationalisms, that language and culture, were at the heart of this struggle in so many other parts of Europe. And quite often, what this led to was monolingualism where a dominant language was imposed on the population. So what he also makes clear is that the national histories of the region are understandably partial. Now, I'm not going to be able to wade into this. But I just want to offer an explainer that's very simple, and dare I say basic. It's just really some top notes about a region whose borders, boundaries and the identities aligned with these have been contested over time, as different states from imperial to nation states vied for ownership of the territory and the allegiance of its people. At the start of the 20th century, the region was within the Kingdom of Prussia, which was part of the then German empire. But by the time we reached the Second World War, the region was split between Poland and Czechoslovakia. The Nazi Germany conquest of Poland led Silesia to being occupied during the Second World War. And it's through the Potsdam agreement at the end of that war, that it became part of the newly constituted Polish People's Republic, which lay within the Soviet sphere of influence, with a small strip becoming part of East Germany. As had happened as other parts of Europe were reorganised along ethno nationalist lines this transition was also accompanied by forcible expulsions, in this case of Germans. Now, in its more recent history, it was caught up in the fall of the Iron Curtain, the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and it transitioned in the early 1990s from Communism to a western style liberal democracy. Then, as you'll hear from George, through the accession treaty of 2003, it joined the European Union. The contested and turbulent history of the region over the last century and in living memory, is a reminder that borders and boundaries move, they're not stable. The borders that exist now have been made and remade over time in response to geopolitical shifts and power struggles between states. These histories of shifting borders and state formation set the stage for inequalities within the European in the present day. A reminder of the need to consider what one of our previous guest, Manuela Boatcă describes as a hierarchy of multiple and unequal Europes. As we'll hear from Alex, these inequalities have pronounced consequences for migration between Europe's east and west in the present day, that, to my mind, disrupt the liberal promises at the heart of the EU free movement regime. But before we hear more from Alex, let's head back into the archive with George. We're going to talk about something that I think we've touched around the edges of in previous episodes, but we haven't quite discussed in any great detail. And this is EU enlargement. And we're talking about a period in the early 2000s When 10 countries joined the European Union. Those 10 countries included eight countries that were located in the east of Europe, which is going to be the focus of the episode today. But let me just give you a list of what the countries were. So this was the Czech Republic, Estonia, Cyprus. US, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Malta, Poland, Slovenia and Slovakia. And they joined the European Union through a treaty of accession that was signed in 2003. And this entered into force in May 2004. Now, of course, when we talk about EU enlargement, we also are talking about there being a wider number of signatories to the EU's freedom of movement directives, which of course, we know a lot about because of Brexit. But let's take a look at this moment in particular. George, when you were looking in the archives, what did you find out about how other EU member states reacted to the accession of these countries? And what about the UK in particular?

George Kalivis [GK]: Well, at that point, we kind of see several public discourses of the so called Eastern New versus the Western Old Europe. And that meant that despite the EU's general policy of free movement, as you said Michaela, the majority of existing European Union states legislated a seven year ban to restrict incoming immigration from those newly added countries. That was with the exception of Ireland, Sweden and the UK, who basically decided to keep their borders open to incoming workforces from the east. Now, at least in Britain's case despite this initial open borders policy, a number of things happened, which arguably contributed to the overall construction and stigmatisation of the quote unquote, "Eastern European" as a migratory category with certain so perceived characteristics, often during that time summarised in public discourse in the stereotypical figure of the "Polish plumber". It all starts with numbers really. Based on a German study, in the run up to the enlargement of the EU in 2003. UK government officials dismissed suggestions of a major influx of migrants from Europe's east, referring to an estimate of up to 13,000 additional arrivals per year. However, this was not the case by far, partially because these calculations were based on the assumption that all 15 previous members of the EU would open their borders instead of just three. The first two years after the Treaty of Accession came into force saw 600,000 workers from the east of Europe arriving in the UK, mostly from Poland. As half returned to their country of origin within that time this meant that the net figure was 150,000 people from the new accepted EU member states per year. Now, despite the additional 120 million pounds that people from EU accession states contributed to Britain's gross domestic product in the first five months of their arrival between 2004 and 2006 we increasingly saw news reports focusing on the unprecedented incoming numbers with more or less scepticism. In an Economist article from August 2006, for example, we read that one of the concerns in this situation and I quote, is "the strain on the public services from so big a population shock. Although few of the new workers have brought families with them so far, some local authorities are starting to complain about increased demands. In Slough, the coucil says that one of its primary schools has recently taken in 50 Polish children in a single term. And because the new migrants have spread out rather than clustering in London, and a couple of other big cities as previous waves have done, their effect is being felt all around the country". Now, in my view, this kind of vague language about the quote unquote "felt effects" of immigrants in local communities is one that stigmatises people by migratising them by a familiar populist anti immigration narratives. Such discussions coincided with the prospect of two further countries joining the EU on the first of January 2007. Bulgaria and Romania known as the A2. In some cases, reports offered an analysis of these earlier trends as an argument against permitting those from the A2 to freely move in the UK, and this time the UK rejected another open borders policy. He and chose to impose restrictions on the movement of workers from Bulgaria and Romania.

MB: This really shows the migratisation of those from Europe's East. And it really problematizes that idea that all European citizens are considered as equal, either within Europe or within the UK. And I think it's really reminiscent for me, George, of what we've seen more recently, in the way that those from Europe's East have been disproportionately represented in statistics, that kind of clock, how many EU citizens are homeless, or, for example, post Brexit, how many have been turned away from Britain's borders, and we've seen a disproportionate representation of people from Romania in that position. So I think you really start to want to see how very, very early on in this process of these countries joining the European Union, you started to see that narrative emerging, very familiar narratives around those kinds of anti immigration narratives being used specifically against these populations of workers coming from Europe's Eastern countries.

GK: I mean, I think it is important to note also how all this is referring to working class migration, it is about restricting access to the quote unquote "poor" rather than the rich. One of the things partaking in a more systemic if you wish, discrimination against people from the east of Europe at the time is the official discussions around the deployment of a hierarchical points system based on a migrants so-called skill. Suggestions for these were officially published in 2006, under the then Labour government, and keep in mind that this is before the 2008 introduction of a points-based system for non-EU immigration. From the very beginning, the conception of a skill-based immigration policy received criticism from various think tanks and organisations in the country. In November 2005, for example, the Guardian's Observer reported criticism against a strict Points-Based System by the Institute of Public Policy Research. The institute argued that the idea at the base of such policy—that the UK had been overrun by a tide of workers from the east—is far from reality. And that in fact, there may be too few so called low skilled immigrants to meet the economy's needs in Britain in the coming years. They explained that the main danger in blocking or strictly reducing working class immigration ignores, and I quote, "The economy's need for a flexible, simple entry route for low skilled workers, which could create a vicious spiral as employers seek stuff in illegal ways, creating a false perception that there is no shortage of low skilled workers, and at the same time, increasing public suspicion of immigration". You know, I would add that, unfortunately, discrimination based on skill, skillism, if we were to put it in one word, is indeed an everyday lived experience for many migrant workers in the country. And I think everyone who has ever worked in hospitality, for example, knows that this kind of skillism seems to be a main factor in how the quote unquote "Eastern European migrant identity" has been stigmatised in the UK. What do you think, Michaela?

MB: I think this is really reminiscent of my discussion with Bridget Anderson in the last episode, where she talked about how class had been institutionalised in the immigration regime through the discourse of skill. And we can see how this is even more firmly entrenched than it was in the early 2000s, which is where you're reporting from when we look at the current points based immigration system with its blatant focus on what it calls talent and skill. But I also think another thing that struck me while you were speaking was that it's interesting that these European workers were so readily considered as migrants in political and public commentary, rather than mobile citizens and workers, as so many other EU citizens were presented—so notably those from other Western European countries. Of course, that distinction between mobile citizens and migrants is now unravelled in the UK because of Brexit. But I think we'd already started to see the signs of that in this early articulation, this early migratisation of that was from Europe's East. And then in the wake of the European sovereign debt crisis, we started to see very similar narratives being deployed to refer to those fleeing economic crisis in Greece and Spain. And I remember standing in my living room shouting at the radio listening to Theresa May, and her role as Home Secretary, warning that we might need to put in place emergency measures to prevent and I've got my fingers in quotation marks "an influx of those coming to the UK, from Greece and Spain" under those conditions. So I think we've slowly seen how that migratisation expanded to incorporate larger swathes of that European population. But notably, those populations that were already peripheralised within Europe, are building on quite long standing narratives of inferiorisation of some populations within Europe, at least in opposition to the kind of the old Europe that you identified at the beginning, the old Western Europe. So thank you very much, George, that's been really, really great in terms of setting up the conversations we'll be having today.

GK: Thank you.

MB: George's exploration of the archive is an important reminder of how alongside those conversations around EU accession, those from Europe's East started to emerge as migrantized. And this is even more ironic, I suppose, in the context of the European Union, where one of the privileges of membership of being an EU citizen was supposed to be this commitment to freedom of movement. And as we've seen from George's discussion that, this was not a right, that was immediately extended to all of those from the EU accession states. Although the UK was an outlier in that respect, deciding that it would permit this immediately, I started my discussion with Aleks, by asking her to reflect a little bit on how EU accession and freedom of movement related to that had been considered within the sociological literature. And in particular, the body of work that had started to emerge that explored the migration of those from Europe's east.

AL: There's a huge literature now that's looking into mobilities from Europe's East to itsWest. And it's, it's something that's exploded over the last few years, because there's obviously also a form of mobility that we've seen a fair bit increase after the fall of the Iron Curtain. The most recent scholarship has emerged on this, which I find the most interesting, is also looking at patterns of discrimination, exploitation. But the many of these contributions that we have, that speak about racism, haven't necessarily theorised racism, very thoroughly.

MB: How have you approached that differently?

AL: Yeah, so my starting point was, you know, coming from the sort of scholarship that I come from, where I studied other repertoires of racism is the question that I asked this, how are representations of people from Europe's east, how are they being invoked, and by whom I sort of looked at prominent public figures, speeches by politicians, but also statements by people who mobilise against immigration. And then I traced how these representations are enshrined in the law, how they travel via institutions and policies. When I started this project, I was actually expecting people who mobilise against immigration to speak about refugees from Syria, and so on. But the figure of "the eastern European" cropped up a lot in this data, which you know, then we also started asking for it. So what materialised in narratives of these people who we interviewed was sort of "the Eastern European as a carrier of disease", who you know, brings COVID to Germany or or Great Britain; representations as tricksters and traffickers. So people who stay a small boats across the channel, or in other ways, clandestinely bring people under very precarious conditions to the west; and the third strain, which is very prominent, and I'm sure everybody's heard about this, this sort of positioning as "breeders" that put a strain on public services. And you know, that is something that helps a lot to cover up the politics of austerity because you can see there these people are taking away our public services rather than reflecting on how the public services themselves are being cut together. So that corresponds with institutional trajectories. So you can find that people from Europe's East are both in Germany and Great Britain, they're overrepresented in precarious jobs for which they're very frequently overqualified. They have limited access to welfare services. That's something that goes back to legislation that the EU and subsequently Britain and Germany have put in place as part of the enlargement of the European Union. And they are in both contexts disproportionately frequently, subjected to immigration, detention and deportation. So now, these three structural patterns you could say, are very common features of racism. But I noticed something in this data that was also specific to this group, namely, that very often in the same interview, or sometimes even in the next breath, these people would talk of people from Europe's east or "Eastern Europeans", as they call them as racially the same, or they would describe them as skilled manual labourers, or would describe them as culturally closer than, you know, post colonial immigration groups. Or they even positioned them as saviours of Europe in contexts when they were speaking, for instance, about the legalisation of push back practices at the border between Poland and Belarus. So, on this basis, I felt this is something quite distinct for this group, right that they are inferiorised on the one hand, within Europe, but on the other hand, they always have this potential to pass into Europeannesss. I think

MB: That that word you used before you refer to them as tricksters or within the narrative as traitors, and I think that that really—that really conjures up to play on that pun a little bit—does conjure up that sense of ambivalence of neither being one or the other, and being able to be kind of relocated as suits the person who is narrating that story at that point in time. But I really liked the way as well, that you highlight the kind of structure or form that racism takes as that anti-Eastern European racism moves into legislation and policy and produces these particular forms of outcome. So yes, you know, we have seen even before Brexit, that the people who are being deported from the United Kingdom or being threatened with deportation, or being denied the right to access welfare, were people who originated in the east of Europe. I just wondered if I could ask you to reflect a little bit on the conceptual tools you found useful for explaining Europe and developing that more comprehensive perspective on, I suppose how racism functions on this structural level that you've made visible in your work.

AL: Obviously, I'm very much inspired by critical race theory and postcolonial studies, and within these wider fields specifically, approaches that foreground the political pconomy of race-making kind of perspective. So, you know, key scholars have influenced me a lot of people like Gurminder Bhambra, Alana Lentin, Manuela Boatcă, or Ivan Kalmer who've recently thought about some of these things. And what really matters to me about these contributions and the scholarship is that they draw attention to the wider picture, that, that there is an other side of the coin to these mobilities. And that sort of draws our attention to the fact that what happens, you know, when people move, or why do they move in the first place. And so obviously, these trends that I've been describing have parallel reverberations in the countries that people leave. So the precarization of labour is something that goes back to the neoliberal orthodoxy of the Washington Consensus, which was originally designed with Latin America in mind, but was then implemented in Europe's east as part of the criteria for its enlargement and for its ability to access the European Union. And what it produces for these countries is a massive brain drain and but a lot of people are leaving. If they aren't able to access welfare because their work is too precarious in countries like Great Britain or Germany, that means they will go back to their countries of origin and access welfare there but that means that the costs of this labour, labour that is conducted in Europe's west, the cost's are being relocated to Europe's East because Europe's East still has to provide the infrastructure for looking after these people. And their increased deportability of course has makes this workforce then incredibly deportable and disposable. So whenever the economic curve goes up or down, they can just be got rid of and we've seen a lot of that in the pandemic that people you know from these countries of origins were the first ones to be laid off, and so on.

MB: You've mentioned there quite quite a number of things bathe from the point of view of reminding us that, actually, it's really important to ask questions about why people migrate that don't just focus on individual narratives around migration, but also consider the structural conditions which inform their ability to move to a particular place or to leave another place. And that that leads me on veryclearly to the next question, which is to do with what you think approaching this issue this way makes visible or I suppose, more pointedly, how does this add to our understandings of race and racialization when it comes to thinking about those from Europe's east?

AL: So I think what postcolonial approaches in particular help us to appreciate is that they draw our attention to the longer durée of precarious labour mobility, there were parallel processes of extractivism that were occurring, where Europe ventured out as part of colonialism, and positioned the colonies subsequently as peripheries. But at the same time, there was also an extraction of resources and cheap labour from Europe's east, which thereby became positioned as a semi-periphery. And if we consider these sort of longer histories, it becomes apparent that what this meant for the region, right. So generation after generation of people had to at some point, move west to make a living and engaged in various forms of precarious labour mobility. And that was very often justified on the basis of ideas of backwardness of the region, of sort of lack of development, ascriptions of you know, dirt or, or premodernity, and so on all this stuff that we know from postcolonial scholarship, right, that positions the core of Western Europe as the core, and some are more progressive, more modern, and more entitled to rule and extract. And so these longer durée histories created a mechanism whereby history repeats itself. And mobility looks similar from generation to generation. And I would suggest that this accounts for the stickiness of racialization. So I think it's a specific group of people from Europe's east, when they move west, and they settle there, the next generation will already blend in into society to a degree that, obviously, there's loss of capital and loss of social capital and ties, and so on. So there are huge losses that are still being felt after migration, but they blend in to a level, that obviously would not be true for postcolonial populations. If you are visibly marked, then racialization sticks to your body. And you would stand out just through your appearance. And that's obviously a completely different mechanism. So if you are positioned as phenotypically white, racialization will just fade with generations. However, the region continues to be racialized as a result of which generation after generation of people see themselves forced or compelled to move to make a living. And that's the racialization that has been sticking around for several centuries now.

MB: So being positioned then, that form of cheap labour, that reserve army of labour that we often hear about when we're talking about postcolonial migrations, we can also see that happening in the case of the east Europeans. And this is why one of the things that you infer when you're talking about this sticky racialization is kind of stickiness of being positioned there. If you were going to explain what you thought this approach made visible, what would you say? And here, I'm thinking particularly about how that approach adds to our understandings of race and racialization. When it comes to thinking about those whose origins lie in present day Europe's east?

AL: Yes, so I mean, obviously, they are quite complex histories of racialization to consider. And at no point am I suggesting there's a direct line of continuity to these. So on the one hand, we need to take into account that there are histories of race in the region. But so I suggest there's something distinctive in the present juncture, which goes back partly to these histories of peripheralisation, has partly to do with the bipolarity of the Cold War, and the inferiorisation of the East that happened as part of that. But it's also connected to the neoliberal orthodoxy that underpins the transition from socialism to capitalism in this region, and these processes position people from Europe's east as somehow one of the same kind. They are read as through the lens of you know, being "Eastern European", that's the sort of racialized category I would suggest, which carries connotations of all being the same despite the various languages, traditions, different histories. And, you know, also very different languages, like a lot of the different people from Europe's East who I work with, and who I think together with about these things, we don't even share the same language, yet, there is a sense that we are subjected to the same Western gaze and read through this lens as being "Eastern Europeans". So I personally, I don't know whether you picked up on this, I don't use the term "Eastern European" to self describe, or to describe these populations, but because I think "Eastern European" is the category that is racialized, that carries specific meanings and connotations.

MB: I think that's really helpful Aleks in terms of highlighting the kind of conjuncture-specific formation, that kind of that racialization as "Eastern European" and, and why we should all be a bit cautious about the words that we use to describe people and but I'm just wondering if you had any final thoughts on the present day, and what that history of peripheralisation helps us to uncover in respect to the conversations about racialization of those from Europe's east, within and beyond Europe?

AL: What my research is sort of indicating, and what I've uncovered in a lot of different contexts is that we shouldn't look at this manifestation of racism and this repertoire of racism on its own, because I think that carries some, some dangers of drawing problematic comparisons to, you know, other positionalities that are racialized, but what I think is really important to look at this repertoire of racism, together with other repertoires of racism, and the way in which they entangled and sometimes reinforce each other. For instance, you know, in the context of the kinds of interviews that we've done around the English Channel, you could see that the figure of the alien who's not supposed to call across the channel is very often racialized as Muslim, potential terrorists and so on. But who facilitates this migration and who is then positioned as the criminal who is the real problem is very often the figure of the Eastern European trickster and trafficker. So we can see how the two repertoires of racism intertwine and reinforce each other mutually. And that's why I think we need to think of these various forms of oppression in conjunction, and I think that builds a very good basis for them thinking about the forms of solidarity that we can build on this basis.

MB: My conversation with Aleks was an important reminder of the need to consider how these repertoires of racism play out in conjoined ways, and how within the borders of Fortress Europe today, hierarchies of oppression may be made visible in the way states and their populations are positioned in respect to the European labour market, that free movement was designed to service. To my mind, this might challenge the predominantly liberal promises at the heart of free movement, at least those that shift beyond its economic rationale. So we might want to ask the question instead free movement for who and on what terms. But she has also shown why it's important that we consider the racialization of those from Europe's East within the political and public narratives that circulate in these times. That we ask the question, what work these do, and what the manifestation of racism in the case of those from Europe's East contributes to understandings of racism today. To be clear, Aleks's account is not one that seeks to make comparisons between repertoires of racism, but to shift the conversation to a different scale. One that sees the contemporary forms of mobility of labour and goods between the east and west of Europe in the longer durée of precarious labour mobility and extractivism. It is this context within which she considers the racialization of those from Europe's East. I hope that's given you a lot to think about. It certainly has done for me. And as I said previously, please do check out Aleks's work. We'll be back next month with the final episode of the season. Until then, happy listening. Thanks for listening to this episode of Who do we think we are? A podcast series produced and presented by me Michaela Benson A special thanks to Emma Houlton at Brilliant Audio for her production and post production support and to George Kalivis for  the cover art, social media assets and archival research. You can check out our show notes for further resources, transcripts and links to all our socials. If you like what you've heard, take a moment to subscribe on your preferred podcast platform. And you can also find us at That's all for now. But we'll be back with another episode very soon.

What does the characterisation of those from Europe’s east as migrants by politicians and in some corners of the media make visible about the politics of migration? What is distinctive about the ways in which they are migratised and racialised? And what does this offer to understandings of racism and racialisation? We’re joined by Aleks Lewicki (University of Sussex) to discuss how critical race theory and postcolonial scholarship can deepen our understandings of repertoires of racism as these play out between ‘Europeans’. Presenter Michaela Benson explores how borders within Europe shifted over the course of the twentieth century. Podcast researcher George Kalivis goes back in the archive to consider the 2003 EU Accession Treaty. And Aleks introduces us to her work about how those from Europe’s east are migratised and why we need to carefully consider what their racialisation makes visible about the distribution of power, past and present, within Europe. 

In this episode we cover …

  1. Unequal Europes and unequal Europeans
  2. The 2003 EU accession treaty
  3. Capitalism and the formation of European nation-states


Postcolonial approaches draw our attention to the longer durée of precarious labour mobility … there were parallel processes of extractivism occurring. Where Europe ventured out as part of colonialism, and positioned the colonies subsequently as peripheries, at the same time, there was also an extraction of resources and cheap labour from Europe's east, which thereby became positioned as a semi periphery. If we consider these longer histories, it becomes apparent what this meant for the region … generation after generation of people had to at some point, move west to make a living and engaged in various forms of precarious labour mobility.

—Aleks Lewicki

Find out more about …

Aleks’  research and her paper on the ambiguous racialisation of ‘Eastern Europeans’

If you liked this episode, check out our previous episodes on this topic with Bolaji Balogun and Marius Turda on  European identities, Nando Sigona on EU citizenship, and Manuela Boatcă on citizenship and Global Social Inequalities

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