Volume 50 • Issue 2 • Special issue: Brexit Matters
The departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union has presented significant challenges to many societies, economies and polities across Europe, if not the globe. Anthropologists, among many other social scientists, have been challenged ethnographically and theoretically by the fast-moving events of the Brexit process. In this special issue of Ethnologia Europaea, four anthropologists with long-term expertise in the anthropology of European integration examine how Brexit has had an impact on various people and regions of Europe. Deborah Reed-Danahay explores how migrants and expatriates in England have been buffeted by the continuing crises of the changing dimensions of European citizenship that have been created by Brexit. Emotions have also run high in the borderlands of Northern Ireland where Thomas Wilson has chronicled the actions and reactions of local people who are trying to keep up with what Brexit will do to their everyday lives. A broad regional and institutional perspective on transnational governance in the EU is provided by Robert Hayden through his comparison of current events to those that befell Yugoslavia. Brexit also serves as a leading symbol for many neonationalists across the continent of a return to greater or reaffirmed national sovereignty, not least in efforts to establish illiberal democracy in Hungary as examined by László Kürti. While the mercurial nature of Brexit makes it difficult to study as an event and a wider and ongoing social, economic and political process, these contributions together, capped off by a commentary by Ulf Hedetoft, demonstrate some of the creativity needed by anthropologists to match the dynamics of Brexit. The open section presents two papers related to migration and borders, Susanne Schmelter explores migration struggles along the humanitarian border through the case of Syrian displacement in Lebanon, and Ove Sutter discusses the civic engagement of humanitarian assistance to refugees during the migration movements of 2015, arguing the volunteers carried out activities of self-organized prefigurative politics, in which they contributed to the local authorities’ migration management. Ida Tolgensbakk provides a methodologically oriented contribution zooming in on the researcher’s role in the transcription process and Tine Damsholt closes the issue with a timely contribution on the different temporalities in everyday experience of the coronavirus.