Expatriate as a 'good' migrant? Thinking through skilled international migration categories

2016-10-27T10:05:28Z (GMT) by Sophie Cranston
In this paper, I explore how British migrants in Singapore utilise the term ‘expatriate’ to denote themselves as being a different kind of migrant. The way in which a migrant is distinguished from an expatriate is the question of return—the migrant is expected to stay, while an expatriate is expected to return to their home country. Yet the term ‘expatriate’ often becomes one that is axiomatically applied to Western migrants living abroad. This paper argues that we should not see the term ‘expatriate’ as axiomatic in describing this type of mobility, as we need to pay attention to the political context in which the term is enmeshed. The paper therefore argues that we need to understand how expatriation is not only understood as an identity in relation to the place of stay abroad, but in comparison to migration as a whole. First, the paper looks at how British migrants in Singapore draw upon racialised understandings of immigration debates to portray expatriates as being ‘good’ migrants. Second, it considers how the term expatriate is deployed in social sciences literature itself.