Following the expatriate : producing, practicing, performing British expatriate identities in Singapore
Cranston, Sophie Clare
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In this thesis, I follow the expatriate as a category, subject, identity and orientation from a starting point of the knowledge of the successful expatriate in the Global Mobility Industry to an end point, Singapore. Focusing on British migrants going to Singapore, I follow the expatriate as a mobile subject and mobile identity. Although the expatriate is a common nomenclature denoting a skilled migrant who lives abroad for a short period of time, I argue that the term expatriate is not axiomatic in describing this type of mobility. Rather, the thesis seeks to uncover what is obscured by and conveyed through the term, how people fit within it or against it, how its use and meaning is produced and negotiated. This builds upon previous literature on expatriates that focuses attention on how their lives play out abroad. However, I develop this literature to argue that the expatriate is produced, in part, through the processes that inform their move. I draw upon management discourse which frames expatriation as being like a ‘journey’ from home to abroad, with the management of how this journey is undertaken contributing to how the expatriate experience is understood. Drawing upon the discourse of the successful expatriate, I start by looking at the Global Mobility Industry, an industry that directs itself towards assisting in the management of expatriates. This industry I suggest performs itself as being expert in knowing how to manage the expatriate, a portrayal that enacts the industry into being. The discourse of the successful expatriate is performative in other ways, as it produces a normal expatriate experience, in terms of how the expatriate understands the abroad, and the normal emotional response to this. This normal expatriate experience is learnt by the British migrant through their journey abroad. The end point of the journey here is Singapore, looking at how British migrants orient themselves through the term expatriate. Through this, I argue then that there is no single way in which we can understand the expatriate, but there are multiple ways in which the term is put to use. These different understandings can be contradictory, but they work to bring into conversation ways in which cultural difference between ‘home’ and ‘abroad’ are produced, performed and practised.