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Dr Daniel Robins PhD

Dr Daniel Robins PhD

ESRC Research Fellow

Cultural geographer with an interest in human mobility and immobility and a regional specialism in Brazil.



  • October 2020 - present: ESRC postdoctoral fellowship, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge


  • PhD Geography, University of St Andrews
  • MA Brazilian Studies, King's College London
  • BA Philosophy (Hons), University of Nottingham

Awards & scholarships

  • Janet T. Anderson PhD Scholarship
  • Royal Geographical Society Frederick Soddy Postgraduate Award
  • Santander Research Mobility Scholarship
  • Society of Latin American Studies Postgraduate Award
  • Canadian Association of Geographers Travel Grant
  • American Association of Geographers Cultural Geography Specialty Group, Terry G. Bychkov Award for Best Paper, 2019


My doctoral thesis used Brazilian migration to London to explore the ideological aspects of people's motivations for and experiences of mobility and immobility. The thesis sought to critically examine the concept of lifestyle migration by applying it to Brazilian migration to London. Lifestyle migration is a term traditionally associated with migration from or within the Global North but, I argue, it also can be usefully applied to some forms of migration from the Global South. For the migrants themselves, lifestyle migration appeared to be informed by an individualist ideology and is thus related to a geographical imaginary of London as a 'world city' and of themselves as 'world citizens'. In migrants' rhetoric and practices, this imaginary was contrasted against a collective imaginary of London's transnational Brazilian 'community'. The thesis also employed the ideas of 'lifestyle' and the geographical imagination to those who remain in Brazil to explore how immobility is rationalised and experienced by those with the means to emigrate but who do not. The thesis ultimately framed class as a key marker of difference amongst migrants. It thus problematises the idea of homogeneity amongst migrant diasporas, showing how social class and racial and regional disparities in Brazil are reproduced and reinterpreted through migration.

I am now using this fellowship to further develop my research. First, regarding immobility, I am particularly interested in how to remain in place is sometimes imagined as a form of duty, in juxtaposition to how to be mobile can be thought of as a right. The recent political turmoil in Brazil has complicated people's experience of immobility as belonging, leading to contested understandings of national identity and citizenship for those who remain. Second, I am interested in the effect of Brexit on UK immigration policy particularly considering the phenomenon of 'invisible' skilled migration. The UK government recently announced that 'low-skilled' workers will be denied visas within a proposed points system. My research showed that many Brazilian migrants are university educated and, despite often starting in low skilled jobs in the service sector, can soon achieve professional parity in London with their previous careers in Brazil. The proposed changes to UK immigration policy are in danger of overlooking such 'invisible' skilled workers and this phenomenon should be considered in policy debates about a points-based immigration system.

Research interests

Lifestyle migration, urban to urban migration from the Global South to the Global North, motivations for and theories of immobility particularly within cities in the Global South, the geographical imaginaries of 'world cities' and 'world citizenship', immigration policy, urbanisation, securitisation, inequalities in private and public space in São Paulo and other cities of the Global South.


Journal articles

  • Robins, D. (2018). Imagining London: The role of the geographical imagination in migrant subjectivity and decision‐making. Area, 51(4), pp.728 735.
  • Robins, D. (2019). Brazilians in London: Ideology, Social Class, and Motivations for Migration, Settlement, and Return. Latin American Perspectives, 46(4), pp.154 168.
  • Robins, D. (2019). Lifestyle migration from the Global South to the Global North: Individualism, social class, and freedom in a centre of "superdiversity". Population, Space and Place, 25(6).

Book reviews

  • The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations: Transatlantic Perspectives, S. Chambers, D. Evans, A. Messina, A. Williamson (Eds), October 2018, The Sociological Review.


2016 - 2020:

  • Invited lecturer, GG2011 Geographies of Global Change, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews.
  • Invited Lecturer, SS5000 Research Training Programme for MRes Degrees in the Social Sciences, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews.
  • Postgraduate tutor, Sustainable Development BA, School of Geography and Sustainable Development, University of St Andrews

External activities


  • Population, Space and Place (Wiley)
  • Social Inclusion (Cogitatio Press)
  • Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies (Wiley)

Professional organisations

  • Royal Geographical Society
  • American Association of Geographers
  • Canadian Association of Geographers
  • Rede Europeia de Brasilianistas de Análise Cultural / European Network of Brazilianists Working in Cultural Analysis (REBRAC).