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Sarah Kunz


UCL Department of Geography
University College London
Pearson Building
Gower Street



Tariq Jazeel (UCL Geography)
Claire Dwyer (UCL Geography)


The ‘Expatriate’: The Postcolonial Politics of a Migration Category

Often referred to as expatriates, migrants who occupy privileged positions within hierarchies of citizenship, class or race have until recently been largely neglected in mainstream migration debates and discourses. ‘Expatriate’ itself is a controversial, malleable and historically unstable term with multiple co-existing and not necessarily congruent meanings. This project aims to ‘open up’ the category to explore its multiple meanings and their social histories, its constitutive acts, fault lines and internal politics. It asks how expatriation as a condition and identity of migration is constituted, lived and imagined, but also challenged; and how this relates to wider issues of power and social difference. This research considers not only the category’s own discursive and material constitution as a contested socio-political formation, it further explores the larger power relations it is embedded in. Drawing on qualitative ethnographic methods, it traces the category expatriate in and through three sites: the Expatriate Archive Centre (EAC) in The Hague, International Human Resource Management literature, and urban spaces of expatriate belonging in Nairobi, Kenya.

This research is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.




PhD Human Geography, University College London (UCL), 2014-2018

MSc Sociology (Contemporary Social Thought), LSE, 2011-2012
BA Liberal Arts and Sciences (Summa Cum Laude), Maastricht University, 2007-2010

Professional Experience

Research Associate, SPAIS, University of Bristol, from 2018

Researcher, NatCen Social Research, London, UK, 2012 - 2014

Postgraduate Teaching

As a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant I have taught on several modules in the department, including Global Geographies, Migration and Transnationalism, the Practice of Human Geography, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Global Migration and an Overseas Field Course in Political Geography to Gibraltar. I am an Associate Fellow of Advance HE and have completed UCL Arena's Teaching Associate Programme (TAP).

Selected Scholarships and Awards

PhD studentship, Economic and Social Research Council, 2014 – 2017
Prince Bernhard Research Scholarship, CEDLA, University of Amsterdam (with M.J. Oomen), 2012
Graduate Studies Scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 2011 – 2012
German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung ddV), 2009 – 2012
Study Abroad Scholarship, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), 2009
Top 3 % Award, Maastricht University, 2008, 2009, 2010



Peer-reviewed journal articles

Kunz, S. (2019). Expatriate, migrant? The social life of migration categories and the polyvalent mobility of race, The Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.

Kunz, S. (2018). ‘Making space' in Cairo: The movements and spatial practices of 'expatriates'. Geoforum,88,109-117.

Kunz, S. (2016). Privileged mobilities: locating the expatriate in migration scholarship. Geography Compass,10 (3), 89–101.


Book Chapters

Kunz, S. (in press). Post-colonial liminality: Expatriate Narratives of Nairobi’s older white transmigrants. In Walsh, K. & Leonard, P. (Eds.) British migration. Routledge.

Oomen, M.J. and Kunz, S. (2018). Gender roles and relations within Bolivian transnational social networks: transgressions, regressions and new autonomies. In Amrith, M. & Sahraoui, N. (Eds.) Gender, Work and Migration: Agency in Gendered Labour Settings. Routledge.


Other Publications

Kunz, S. (2019). Book Review for Transfers: Standfield, R. (Ed.) (2018). Indigenous Mobilities. Across and Beyond the Antipodes, ANU Press.

Kunz, S. (2018). Book Review for Antipode: Chambers, I. (2017) Postcolonial Interruptions, Unauthorised Modernities, Rowman & Littlefield

Kunz, S., Oskala, A., & Morrell, G. (2015). An evaluation of the Gateway Protection Programme. A report prepared for the Home Office. NatCen Social Research: London.

Clery, E., Lee, L., & Kunz, S. (2013). Public attitudes to poverty and welfare, 1983-2011. Analysis using British Social Attitudes data. NatCen Social Research: London.


Conferences, Presentations & Sessions

Selected Conference Presentations and Sessions

Nairobi Migrant City: Relational precarity and connected migrations. Invited contribution to a panel on 'Relational Precarity, Migration and Global Cities: differentiated inclusion through social, temporal and spatial connections', AAG Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, Apr 2017

Addressing the diversification and stratification of migration in the 21st century, Paper Session organised with Chia-Yuan Huang at the AAG Annual Meeting, Boston, MA, Apr 2017

Expatriates in the 'Women's League'. Narratives of belonging among Nairobi's older white immigrants. Paper presented at the IMISCOE Spring Conference 'The Tyranny of Categories in Migration Policy, Research and Data Production', London, UK, Feb 2017

Tracing the Expatriate: Re-­reading Human Resource Management Literature. Paper presented at the RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London, UK, Sep 2016

'Making Space' - Expat’ migration, settlement and identity in Cairo. Paper presented at the European Social Science History Conference (ESSHC) in Valencia, Spain, Apr 2016

Postcolonial approaches to the study of privileged migration. Paper presented at the ‘Migrations of Knowledge’ International Conference, University of Oldenburg, Germany, Dec 2014

Expatriates in migration scholarship. Paper presented at the European Sociological Association Midterm Conference: Contested Migration Regimes, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany, Nov 2014

Social remittances and gender dynamics in transnational Bolivian families. Paper presented at the IS Academy Migration and Development: Final Conference, Maastricht University, NL, Jan 2014 (with Maria-Jose Oomen Liebers)

Gender roles in transnational Bolivian families. Paper presented at the Migrant Integration and Transnationalism in Contemporary Europe, Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO), Norway, Oct 2013 (with Maria-Jose Oomen Liebers)