EASA, 2006: EASA06: Europe and the world

Bristol, UK, 18/09/2006 – 21/09/2006

(W029)

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

Location MVB 1.11a
Date and Start Time 21 Sep, 2006 at 11:30

Convenors

Catherine Neveu (LAIOS CNRS) email
Barbara Waldis (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland) email
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Short Abstract

Due to a series of transformations, 'traditional' conceptions and studies of citizenship are subjected to critical reappraisals. Anthropology offers new avenues to provide empirically based analysis of, explore understudied dimensions of, and contribute to a renewed theorisation on, citizenship.

Long Abstract

Due to social and political transformations (such as the growing cultural diversity of European societies, the creation of a European citizenship, and contemporary changes in public policy making), traditional conceptions of citizenship, linked to the nation state, are subjected to many critical reappraisals, and anthropology offers new avenues to provide empirically based analysis, explore understudied dimensions of citizenship, and contribute to a renewed theorisation on the subject. The cultural diversity of most European societies, together with the creation of a European citizenship, have given a new momentum to debates about the relations between citizenship and identity. But if the cultural bias underlying even the most openly universalistic conceptions of citizenship can be exposed, does that imply that the notion of citizenship itself is cultural? While theories of citizenship tend to present it as a universal and universally valid notion, one realises there are as many conceptions of citizenship as there are political histories and cultures. How can anthropologists contribute to a further understanding of the variety of social and political representations of citizenship, as a socially and politically built, and thus arbitrary, notion? What are the historical, social and political configurations, and agents, producing different and competing types of citizens and citizenry? The variety of ideological representations carried by such conceptions can be fruitfully explored by analysing public policies and governmental discourses. By proposing, supporting or constraining different types of attitudes among citizens, governmental agencies potentially construe new or different types of political subjects. How are the citizens defined, what attitudes are rewarded or excluded, and how do these policies contribute to the validation of new sets of practices and the disqualification of others?

Chair: Barbara Waldis
Discussant: Catherine Neveu and Nigel Rapport

Papers

Citizenship-building in an Italian town: migrants, locals and Victor Turner

Author: Giovanna Palutan (Università degli Studi di Padova)  email
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Long Abstract

Our paper reflects upon migrant communities' dynamics of participation in the local political arena. Our attention lies particularly on practices of citizenship resulting from public debates which involve representatives of migrants and local politicians alike.

The data come from an ethnographic research carried out in a north eastern Italian town, increasingly subject to immigration processes, in a seven year long range of time. Such prolonged period of fieldwork allowed us to follow the turnover of local political administrations, and the consequent different views regarding the perception and role of migrants in the society. At the same time it allowed us to record the progressive sense of belonging, involvement, and participation of the new town's residents striving for a more inclusive, less juridical meaning of citizenship. In turn, citizenship representations on both sides do not occur in a vacuum, but resent of policies at the national level and of pregnant events in the larger global context.

The data collected are analyzed by means of Victor Turner's processual model of the social drama with an emphasis on the phase of compensation, whose features of narrative, indeterminacy and reflexivity represent a particularly promising key of interpretation.

Lithuanian law on citizenship: culture and ethnicity

Author: Darius Daukšas (University of Eastern Finland)  email
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Long Abstract

Until the recent years citizenship was viewed as a political concept and defined as a relationship between individual and state. However cultural dimension of citizenship is recently being taken on board. By this I mean that both the concept of citizenship and culture operate in a communal context and imply some relationship between individual and community. The aspect of culture in citizenship politics is analytically useful tool in trying to explain the popular dichotomy in social science of "civil West" and "ethnic East".

In the paper I will analyse the Lithuanian Law on Citizenship and its application in the state institutions in a broader Eastern European context. Mainly my focus lies on the aspect of granting citizenship for the persons of Lithuanian descent which, I will argue, is a part of so called kin-state strategy in Eastern and Central Europe. I will analyse this aspect as a link between majority culture and citizenship. The aspect of culture is obvious in the process of application of Citizenship Law for the persons of Lithuanian descent in the state institutions. I call the aspect of establishing Lithuanian citizenship under the paragraph of Lithuanian descent 'contracted ethnicity'. I would show that state institutions that implement the Citizenship Law in practice use the cultural components such as 'Lithuanian activities', 'Lithuanian names', religion and others in order to establish persons' Lithuanian descent. The aspect of contract appears when a person whose Lithuanian descent is established has to write down a free hand declaration that he/she considers himself/herself to be of Lithuanian descent. I will argue that practices of signing down the declaration and the usage of cultural components in establishing Lithuanian descent are indeed the management of ethnicity.

Uncertain citizenship: the case of Moldova

Author: Monica Heintz (University of Paris Nanterre)  email
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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.

An approach to citizenship in postcolonial societies

Author: Barbara Waldis (University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland)  email
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Long Abstract

Current debates on national citizenship in Europe consider so called cultural differences one of the most serious dangers to internal national cohesion. This might stem from historical development of European Nation states, fostering the ideology of the one dominant cultural nation. Cultural diversity seems an anti-thesis to national identity and the quote of John Stuart Mill (1958) some fifty years ago seems still all too valid: "Free institutions are next to impossible in a country made up of different nationalities. Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist".

The paper discusses this idea from the vantage point of the postcolonial Republic of Mauritius. Multicultural demography is constitutive to the existence of this country and its colonial history is coined by French, Creole, British, and Indian influence. What are the characteristics of the developed model of citizenship in this context? What positions and functions do so called cultural differences take in official citizenship discourses? What happens to the ideal of national identity? What can one learn for a general theory of citizenship in multicultural societies? These issues will be exemplified by census categories, their transformation by actors and their presentation in citizenship education text books of Mauritius. They illustrate the official model of citizenship as it exists in tensions to social reality and in negotiations within the political process between state, collective and individual actors in the public, social and private sphere.

Citizen-consumer in the quasi-commercial state

Author: Simone Abram (Durham University)  email
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Long Abstract

There are many words which can be used to describe a citizen in new welfare states, but one of the most common has become the customer or service-user. In investigating these new terms, we find a shift in the relationship between state and citizenry at both central and local levels. Intervening in this relationship are a range of institutional 'partners' such as private companies and corporations, charitable organisations and voluntary groups, and semi-commercial agencies. In this paper, I examine the experiences of people involved in an urban regeneration process in order to examine where the notion of citizen appears (if at all) in the new constellations of government. I discuss the notion of the individual citizen as object of state activities in relation to the construction of a stratified and peculiarly-differentiated 'public', and demonstrate how abstract notions of the relation of citizen to state have developed in Britain in recent years, with the development of a discourse on user-participation. I then show how this discourse runs counter to political ambitions to diversify the engagement of commercial organizations in public projects.