Professor Kathy Burrell BA (Hons), MA, PhD

Professor of Migration Geographies Geography and Planning


Research Overview

Polish Migration: mobilities, material culture, governance, 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 and material culture and the practices and infrastructures of sending in migrants' lives. I have also been part of a large project funded by the Research Council of Norway investigating Polish migrants’ lives in UK, Norway and Sweden. Through this we explored how Poles negotiated the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the 'hostile environment' in the UK. This project also enabled me to work in a comparative Scandinavian context, researching how Poles' relationships with the state vary across the three countries, and focusing especially on exclusions associated with the personal number system in Sweden. I am now currently extending this work with British Academy funding to research the impact of the Settled Status application process and treaties on UK Poles.

Geographies of Home

I have also been nurturing interests in the geographies of home for many years. Earlier research has focused on home-space materialities and experiences of home in relation to wider neighbourhood dynamics such as change and ‘churn’. I am currently a CI on a large AHRC Covid-19 rapid response funded project ‘Stay Home Stories’, where we have been researching the impact of the pandemic on experiences of home among people with diverse ethic and faith background in Liverpool and London. I am now researching the settlement of Ukrainian refugees in the UK through the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, thinking about the different tensions and possibilities of hosting in domestic space and what this scheme can help us learn about hosting as a refugee settlement approach.

Narrating, Representing and Remembering Migration

I also have a longstanding commitment to the moral significance of narrative and storytelling for revealing migrants' experiences which has led me to explore the 'back histories' of migration - how people 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. This interest has also led me to research history, memory and migration in the context of the UK, and in Liverpool, and more recently explore graphic narratives as cultural representations of the 'refugee crisis' and their scope to act as new decolonial archives.

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