Anna Gawlewicz on EU and Brexit

From the Ship

Anna Gawlewicz: Free Mobility and Migration in Precarious Times

Jul 20, 2023

114 Global Voyage participants were greeted by on board guest educator Anna Gawlewicz in Piraeus, Greece. For the almost two weeks Anna was able to join Peace Boat, participants had the opportunity to learn about her two research focal areas: the contribution of international migration on growing social and cultural diversity in Europe, and the impacts of Brexit and Covid-19 on the long-settled and migrant populations in the United Kingdom. Anna is a Public Policy and Research Methods lecturer at the University of Glasgow, and for the duration of her career has researched issues related to international migration, social diversity, and well-being in migration. Holding a PhD in Human Geography from the University of Sheffield and a combined Bachelor and Master of Science in International Relation and European Studies from Cracow University of Economics, Anna has led and co-led various research projects supported through grants that have helped her gain more insight on the issues specifically as they connect to migrations from Central and Eastern Europe. 

Anna Gawlewicz explaining East–West migration in EuropeAnna Gawlewicz explaining East–West migration in Europe

Anna’s first lecture entitled “Migrant essential workers and Covid-19” dove into how the pressures of both Brexit and Covid-19 in 2020 affected Polish migrant essential workers employed in the UK. Brexit was already posing issues for Polish migrants, but the Covid-19 pandemic reinforced them along with new issues which attracted Anna and other researchers to judge how UK immigration policies are further impacting the situation. Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, migrant essential workers did receive some positive light, even being called “heroes” in certain instances, but this was not a long-term response due to the increasingly hostile immigration policies put in place by the government. 

Migrant Workers and Covid-19Discussing the role of migrant essential workers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Anna’s second lecture entitled “Free movement and East–West migration in Europe” focused on the recent rise in international mobility along the East–West axis, and how this has been changing the nature of migration in Europe. Anna first explained how the East-West migrations were mobilized by the 2004 and 2007 enlargements of the European Union and its freedom of movement policy. She then focused on various motivations to migrate ‘westwards’ by exploring the illustrative case study of Polish migrants to the UK. Anna’s final lecture focused on Brexit, i.e. the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. Anna explained why people voted for Brexit in a nationwide referendum in 2016 and how Brexit has been impacting UK society since. She also discussed how the issue of immigration is key to understanding Brexit and how migrant communities in the United Kingdom and British migrants in the European Union feel about it.

After all lectures, participants were eager to ask questions during the Q&A section and showed strong interest in particular in how Brexit plays a part in Anna’s research regarding migrant workers in the United Kingdom. Anna has participated on previous Peace Boat voyages, and the aspect of her research that has continued to captivate Peace Boat participants is her ability to adapt it to current events whilst still considering the longitudinal trends.