Accepted paper:

Uncertain citizenship: the case of Moldova

Authors:

Monica Heintz (University of Paris Nanterre)

Paper short abstract:

How are civic, political and social rights articulated in a 'non-Western' European state, whose statehood is disputed? I argue, on the basis of ethnographic material from Moldova, that economic development has a crucial role in determining state loyalties and citizenship identities.

Paper long abstract:

How are civic, political and social rights articulated in a "non-Western" European state, whose statehood is disputed? The case of the Republic of Moldova helps us reconsider the notion of citizenship, following the important intellectual developments of the 1990s in the field of citizenship studies (Kymlicka, Schnapper etc), but going further to relate theory to recent historical and political developments on the basis of recently collected empirical material (fieldwork in 2003-2004 in the rural area). This paper argues that economic development has a crucial role in determining state loyalties or citizenship identities. The Republic of Moldova is a former Soviet republic and currently CIS member, a country with a reputation for being the poorest in Europe, with a record of 20% of the population engaged in labour migration. The Moldovan state is founded on conflicting perceptions of history, national identity and multiethnic relations. The existence of the separatist Transnistrian Republic within its borders introduces geopolitical and international security components into the identity choices of citizens, dividing them in ways that perpetuate the instability of the region. This case-study contributes to general debates on citizenship in the post-Soviet space by analysing to what extent citizenship can represent a source of shared identity or a possible basis of solidarity in a multiethnic state during the postsocialist transformation. I considered in my research both the making of citizenship from above and the perception and response of citizens from below. The perception of their relation with the state prompts citizens to get involved in public life or not (from voting to participation in social movements), to change their citizenship (from the acquisition of a different passport to migration), or to participate in or temper ethnic conflicts. The quality of citizenship offered by the state is an important factor for explaining political, economic and social facts.

panel W029
Anthropology of citizenship(s): comparing conceptions and analysing changes from Europe