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Introduction

Academic historians writing on Britain in the second half of the twentieth century

have shown public discourse on immigration to be highly racialised, with the term

‘immigrant’ being used as a euphemism for black and Asian people and their

descendants (Hampshire 2005; Joppke 1999; Paul 1997). Until recently, when large

numbers of East Europeans migrated for work in Britain following the 2004

enlargement of the European Union, focus on white immigrants had been confined to

academic studies. Strikingly, until the publication of a major think-tank report

(Sriskandarajah and Drew 2006), white British people moving abroad were largely

ignored in the British media (except on TV lifestyle programmes).1 Reflecting the

racialisation evident in discussions of immigration, white British emigrants often

referred to themselves not as migrants, but used an entirely separate term: expatriates.