Professor Kathy Burrell BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Professor of Migration Geographies Geography and Planning


Polish Migration: mobilities, material culture, Brexit, Scandinavia

I have been working on different aspects of Polish migration to the UK for many years. In particular I have written about intersections between migration and mobility which have been neglected - the experiences of travelling for migration on low cost airlines, the various sending practices and infrastructures at work in migrants' lives, and the aesthetics of sending and the materiality of sent and carried things. I am currently working on a project funded by the Research Council of Norway on Polish migrants in UK, Norway and Sweden. This has allowed me to research how Poles have been negotiating the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the 'hostile environment' in the UK, as well as think about the impact Brexit will have on mobility practices. It has also enabled me to work in a comparative Scandinavian context, researching how Poles' relationships with the state vary across the three countries.

Narrating, Representing and Remembering Migration

A commitment to the moral significance of narrative and storytelling for revealing migrants' experiences has led me to explore the 'back histories' of migration - how migrants talk about their lives before, as well as during and after migration. This includes intergenerational story transmission and second generation Polish 'postmemory' of WW2 and deportation; the narrated historical geography of socialist Poland, including the influence of western things, navigating the shortage economy and the reach of the state; and experiences of post-socialist transition. I have also written about history, memory and migration in the context of the UK, and in Liverpool. Most recently I have been writing about graphic narratives as cultural representations of the 'refugee crisis', and their scope to act as new decolonial archives.

Mobility, Place and Home: 'Churn', Neighbourliness and Material Culture

I have an interest in the interconnections between place, mobility, social interactions and materiality, brought together by a project undertaken in a neighbourhood of Leicester which has high population turnover or 'churn'. Theoretically, it considers the usefulness of the concept of assemblage for understanding the materiality of neighbourhood relationships, the value of the notion of conviviality for underlining the 'smallness' of socially significant interactions, and reflects on the porosity of home spaces in the face of wider, structural economic and social forces. I have also been the CI on a British Academy grant which explored the physical environment in Toxteth and how different residents relate to the area.

Research Group Membership

Research Grants

Title Unsettled Status? Polish experiences of the Settled Status scheme and beyond


October 2021 - September 2023

'Stay home': rethinking the domestic during the Covid-19 pandemic


December 2020 - November 2022

Doing Family Across Borders: A Comparative Study of Work, Family and Welfare Strategies among Polish Migrants in Norway, Sweden, and the UK.


July 2016 - June 2019