Polish migration to the UK: Growing roots versus transnational identities

Wednesday 3rd March 12-1pm GMT

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Maggie Wootton (Aston, Sociology and Policy)

Polish migration to the UK: Growing roots versus transnational identities

With the Iron Curtain separating Poland from the West for over four decades after WW2, post-WW2 Polish migration to the UK provides an ideal context in which to explore how migrants’ national identity evolved under conditions of isolation from their homeland. This mostly one-directional post-WW2 migration can be contrasted with a more circular, open-ended crossing of the post-2004 flows after Poland’s EU accession – a new Polish community embedded in the transnational social space within the structures of the European Union (albeit now questioned by Brexit).

This seminar will explore the impact of limited transnational practices on the formation and evolution of national identity of post-WW2 migrants in comparison to the construction of national identity by post-2004 migrants in the current context of increasingly transnational conditions. This seminar will show that in contrast to the more recent transitional, more fluid patterns, this group of migrants became a more concise diaspora, recreating social structures, forming communities, acquiring land and property, thus growing strong physical roots in the UK. Their national identity was constructed within the geographical boundaries of the UK, deeply embedded in their localities, and further encapsulated by their WW2 narratives and experiences.