chapter  1
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Examining ‘Expatriate’ Continuities: Postcolonial Approaches to Mobile Professionals

ByAnne-Meike Fechter, Katie Walsh

In recent years, the interdisciplinary fields of colonial and postcolonial studies have been

enriched by nuanced analyses of the ways in which racialised colonial identities (cross-cut

by gender, class and sexuality) have been enacted in particular settings. Nevertheless, the

quantity and quality of knowledge about the lives of European colonials and settlers can

be held in stark contrast with the relative scarcity of studies of those who might be

regarded as their modern-day equivalents: contemporary ‘expatriates’, or citizens of

‘Western’ nation-states who are involved in temporary migration processes to destina-

tions outside ‘the West’. These contemporary expatriates are rarely considered through a

postcolonial framework. As a corrective, this special issue of JEMS draws together eight

articles, each of which explicitly engages in different ways with this theoretical concern. In

this introductory paper we argue for the significance of the past in shaping contemporary

expatriate mobilities and note postcolonial continuities in relation to people, practices

and imaginations. While discussing the resonances across various geographical sites, we

emphasise the need to also consider the particularity of postcolonial contexts. Finally,

we suggest that we need to broaden the current, somewhat myopic focus on Western

expatriates, to understand them in relation to other groups of migrants, particularly in

globalising cities, and to include the perspectives of locals.