Anna Bailie

Brexit, Incivility and Digital Contestion

Anna is currently studying to achieve her masters in Social Research at the University of York and will start her PhD research in October. She completed her undergraduate in Social Anthropology at Queen’s University Belfast in 2018 and has been involved with ethnographic research and voluntary work with Polish migrant communities in Bedford and Luton.

This PhD project will investigate how the circulation of narratives, imagery and statistical ‘evidence’ via digital social media platforms impacts people in both online and offline worlds. Social media can be a source of belonging and additionally a vehicle to tackle the issues that the hostile political environment has made. Anna hopes to answer the main research questions of:

How do civil society groups formulate and disseminate alternative visual and discursive messages (of acceptance, kindness, inclusivity) via digital platforms?

What kind of messages succeed?

And how?



Alex Kirby-Reynolds

Alex is a PhD student at The University of Sheffield in the Sociological Studies Department. He previously studied Social Anthropology at Aberdeen and International Development and Human Rights at Goldsmiths, and has worked as a consultant in the humanitarian sector.

Alex’s PhD project is entitled ‘Brexit and the Re-narration of Discord’. This looks to interrogate how visceral feelings of hope and fear are creating intimate and discordant relationships that permeate through local and national spaces. In doing so, it seeks to address the affective, imaginative and narrative infrastructures upon which Brexit and its experiences are contingent. The research will be conducted through a multimodal ethnography which combines long-term ethnographic engagement, with observational and interactive film. This methodology is underpinned by a commitment to collaborative and open-ended storytelling which invites others to interpret and experience everyday Brexits.


Michael Thompson

Pursuing research career in migration, integration and bordering politics, focusing on the socio-cultural implications of Brexit and how these are manifested in public space.

Abstract: Post-Brexit Anxieties in Minority Ethnic Communities.
This PhD project focuses on anxieties within minority ethnic communities in Leeds rooted in the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. By using participatory action methods in the form of walking and transport interviews, a counter-topography of anxiety-inducing experiences will be produced in collaboration with network partners embedded within the community. Using language as a mechanism through which public space in Leeds could induce anxiety, we can draw new conclusions from this intersection of migration, culture and public space.

Specific consideration will be given to German and Polish EU-national minorities, as their immigration status is directly affected by Brexit. Here, these groups represent the dualistic paradigms of power and employment, with Germany’s stature and political power within the EU heavily criticised in the Brexit referendum campaign, and much of the anti-immigrant, anti-freedom of movement sentiment directed at Polish communities due to a perceived loss of British jobs.

The extraordinary circumstances faced by these groups are exemplified through the normalisation of ‘everyday bordering’ imposed by the 2014 Immigration Act and the concomitant ‘hostile environment’ policy regime. As ordinary citizens become responsible for immigration enforcement, we may see a rise in anxieties associated with public space. While there is a long-established link between government agencies and austerity, we are witnessing a rise in immigration-related tensions in minority ethnic restaurants, and even religious establishments. By identifying anxieties experienced by minority ethnic communities in urban public space, we can design policy frameworks aimed at mitigating the potentially damaging effects of Brexit on community cohesion and minority integration strategies.


Europe, Migration and the New Politics of (In)security is a collaborative project of PhD researchers Anna Bailie, Alex Kirby-Reynolds and Michael Thompson, with supervisory support from by Alex Hall (University of York); Deirdre Conlon (University of Leeds) and Hannah Lewis (University of Sheffield).