Citizens without nations

Isin, Engin F. (2012). Citizens without nations. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 30(3) pp. 450–467.



To broach the question of whether citizenship could exist without (or beyond) community, this paper discusses genealogies of citizenship as membership that binds an individual to the community of birth (of the self or a parent). It is birthright as fraternity that blurs the boundary between citizenship and nationality. After briefly discussing recent critical studies on birthright citizenship (whether it is civic or ethnic or blood or soil) by Ayelet Shachar and Jacqueline Stevens, the paper discusses three critical genealogies of the relationship between birthright and citizenship by Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. Although each provides a critical perspective into the question, Weber reduces citizenship to fraternity with nation and Arendt reduces citizenship to fraternity with the state. It is Foucault who illustrates racialization of fraternity as the connection between citizenship and nationality. Yet, since Foucault limits his genealogical investigations to the 18th and 19th centuries, a genealogy of fraternity of what he calls an immense biblical and Greek tradition remains for Derrida to articulate as a question of citizenship.

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