Ageing, identity, and migration: an intersectional approach to British expatriates that retire to Spain

2018 edition

Emma Fàbrega Domènech

This research aims to unmask the inner workings of older people who uproot their lives to fulfill life projects within a globalized context dominated by uncertainty. This type of migration is referred to as lifestyle migration, which is becoming increasingly popular within Europe. The search for the ‘good life’, especially after retirement, brings many Northern Europeans to countries such as Spain, France, or Italy. However, what identity (re)construction processes does this migration entail? These processes are even more complex and enticing when met with the ambiguous notion of ‘old age’ and what it represents within European societies. Consequently, this research strives to unpack the intersection of identity, migration, and ageing by studying British expatriates that retire to Spain. The research will be carried out in a location such as Costa del Sol (Spain), where a large number of Britons migrate to as part of their retirement plans. By volunteering in a British retiree community (to be determined) and conducting participant observation, individual life interviews, and focus groups, this research intends to answer questions such as: How can migration in late life stages affect ones’ sense of identity? How is old age recognized within these retiree communities? What effect does the stereotypical image of the wealthy British expatriate have on these individuals and their community life? These are just some of the questions this research attempts to answer by giving a unique anthropological perspective on contemporary issues such as migration, ageing, and identity.