Photos challenge British ex-pat stereotypes

Simon owns a Caribbean themed bar on Fuengirola beachfront. Photographs: Charlie Clift
23 Nov 2013 @ 2.16 pm
| Education
Simon owns a Caribbean themed bar on Fuengirola beachfront. Photographs: Charlie Clift
Simon owns a Caribbean themed bar on Fuengirola beachfront. Photographs: Charlie Clift

In Britain the debate about migration often dwells on fears that we’ve neither the space nor resources to cope with an influx of settlers from Europe and beyond.

But a new photographic exhibition switches the focus on to British emigrants – and challenges the “Brits abroad” stereotype.

Charlie Clift photographed British expatriates living near the Mediterranean coast in Spain. From bowls clubs and bars, to beaches and schoolyards, each person photographed is shown in a location that defines their Spanish life in Spain.

They range from those who cannot speak Spanish and have hardly integrated with the locals, to others who have married Spaniards and educated their children in Spanish schools.

The Brits Abroad photography exhibition and lunchtime lecture on Thursday November 28, is open to all and free to attend.

The event is part of the Migration and Economic Crisis: Responses of Brits at Home and Abroad project. Funded by the White Rose University Consortium, it is a collaboration between the universities of York, Leeds and Sheffield.

Carole regularly plays bowls at the Javea Green Bowls Club which consists almost entirely of British members
Carole regularly plays bowls at the Javea Green Bowls Club which consists almost entirely of British members
David is a musician who retired to Spain with his wife
David is a musician who retired to Spain with his wife

The project brings together migration researchers from the three universities through a series of seminars which began in September.

“Immigrants are often spoken about in terms of statistics or stereotypes, but I wanted to show how different each person can be,” said photographer Charlie Clift.

“Although many expatriates I met had traits of that commonly known figure of a British person living in Spain, they often surprised me with other parts of their personality or lifestyle.

“Almost no one I met in Spain fitted the stereotype we know in the UK. By focusing on British people who are immigrants in other countries, I hope to help a British audience to think twice about immigrants in general.”


  • The Brits Abroad exhibition and lunchtime talk will take place at the Bowland Auditorium, Berrick Saul Building at the University of York, on Thursday, 28 November at 1pm. Open to all, admission is free and no ticket is required
  • The seminar, the second in the Migration and Economic Crisis: Responses of Brits at Home and Abroad project, will be held the same day from 11am to 4.30pm at the Tree House, Berrick Saul Building. For further information email Dr Roxana Barbulescu