Resource: The changing lives of expats in South Africa

As part of my research into migration, I am across an article from the Telegraph in 2010 where Dr Daniel Conway embarks on a project to study the lives of British expats in South Africa. I thought it would be wise to not only look at photographic series’ but also to look at general articles that talk about the movement of people to different countries because it is here that gives an insight into life in another country.

In the article Conway explains about the estimated numbers of expats in South Africa and our relationship with the country. More so he talks about the historical context and what pushed people to move or continue to live there. One part of the article I found particularly engaging was the part where he talks about having lived in South Africa in the mid 2000’s and was inspired to study and live in the country by his parents who had lived there until the 1970’s. He said the first thing he noticed was the incongruous mix of the familiar and the foreign – a very interesting point about the perception of culture.

South Africa has a colonial legacy of architecture, customs and red pillar boxes to remind one of home. Many of South Africa’s universities continue to retain their British traditions and are still staffed by a considerable number of British people. Shopping also tends to be a familiar affair – with South Africa’s Woolworths chain a dead ringer for Marks & Spencer, right down to the “pub lunch” ready meals of sausages and mash and roast beef. South Africans watch the BBC and Sky News and, of course, The Telegraph weekly world edition is sold alongside national newspapers across the country.

So what pushes people to move to different countries and uproot their lives in the UK? There is a whole barrage of factors, each different for each individual. Some are drawn by the temperatures, others drawn by financial factors, some are drawn by social factors, and others education or work. There are many reason why people choose to move, something I find particularly interesting, especially the connection between the familiar and the foreign. What is it that people miss when they move and what is it that they don’t? How are they perceived by the public and how do they see themselves? These are all questions I feel I would want to explore as part of this project is I choose to work with expatriates. Sometimes the perception of others is more interesting and engaging than an opinion that we are already familiar with and with the sheer volume of people moving to different countries every year, I think it is a question worth asking and a project worth pursing.



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