Man is an animal suspended in webs of significance that he himself has spun...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Few Odd but Interesting Books about Citizenship

Last year my spouse gave me an Ipad as a gift and it was love at first swipe.  I use it to take notes and send them to my mailbox but the finest feature is, of course, having Kindle and being able to order books from Amazon.  Instant gratification.  I find a book I want and I can actually have it in under 3 minutes.  When it comes to books I'm a little like an addict in a crackhouse.  As I delve into the topic of citizenship, I found a few titles a bit off the beaten path that some of you might find interesting.  All of them are good and have rather interesting approaches to the problem of citizenship in a modern globalized world:

The Future Governance of Citizenship by Theodora Kostakopoulou (2008) :  Modern citizenship has a 200 year old pedigree that is, according to the author, a bit frayed around the edges.  She argues that there are four main assumptions underlying the modern model:  priority, exclusivity, supremacy and cohesion.  These are things that are being challenged by globalization, technology and mass migration.  The current citizenship model is rapidly becoming obsolete but most efforts in the citizenship realm are just fine-tuning the existing model.  Kostakopoulou also uses elements of the existing model but what is interesting is how she divorces them entirely from the idea of the nation (that bounded national community).  Her model is based instead on domicile.  "Domicile could reflect either the special connection that one has with a country in which (s)he has his/her permanent home or the connection one has with a country by virtue of his/her birth within its jurisdiction or of his/her association with a person on whom (s)he is dependent."  In short it is about connections and "bonds of association" and not about nations.  She envisions three types of domicile that could be the basis for acquisition of citizenship:  Domicile by birth (jus soli), domicile by choice (permanent residency in another country) and domicile of association (based on a strong link between dependent and independent persons).

The Ironies of Citizenship by Thomas Janoski (2010):  Great discussion on the politics of granting citizenship.  Naturalization rates in modern countries vary enormously from state to state:  Canada has a very high rate, Germany has a very low rate and the U.S. has a declining rate. In some states it's very easy to become a citizen and in others it is very difficult. Jonoski argues that the first step is to stop tying reasons for immigration to reasons for wanting or allowing naturalizations.  The two, he says, are not necessarily tightly linked.  States can very welcome to immigrants but very hostile to grant them citizenship status.  On the migrant side there may be very good reasons to immigrate but not to take on citizenship.  His analysis of nationality policy looks at four types of regimes to try to explain why certain countries are open and others are not to naturalization and integration:

Colonizing countries:  These countries first tried to control their "colonials" by integrating them into the military and the bureaucracy which leads to some form of colonial citizenship over time.  Colonizing nations tends to be open to granting citizenship when colonials adopt the colonizing countries values. This is a lengthy process that unfolds over generations and in the case of long-term colonizers like the French or the British, leads to reverse migration. Yes, the colonies come "home."

Non-colonizing and Occupying Countries:  These are states that did not have significant colonies abroad BUT many of them experienced high levels of emigration.  "When former citizens reject their homeland by emigrating and the state does not develop colonies for the praise and glory of the empire, remaining citizens try to rationalize the rejection..."  Fertile ground for extreme forms of nationalism.  These states are highly resistant to granting citizenship to foreigners.

Settler Countries:  These are the once-colonized states that are now independent.  The ease of gaining citizenship in these countries is tied to three things:  territorial expansion, destruction of native peoples and managing labor shortages.  These countries tend to be very open to immigration and have low barriers to the acquisition of citizenship. Examples:  Canada, Australia and the U.S.

Nordic countries:  These states were not colonizers or colonized but they have very high rates of naturalization (almost as high as the settler countries).   The countries have small indigenous populations (Saami and Inuit) but that isn't the reason for their liberal naturalization regimes.  Janoski argues that it has to do with a particular kind of social democratic politics.

Based on the above Janoski has four hypotheses:

  1. Colonizing countries will have moderate barriers to nationality established by nationality laws and a moderately high level of naturalization in proportion to their colonization throughout the world;
  2. Non-colonizing countries, especially former occupiers, will have the highest barriers to nationality and the lowest naturlaization rates;
  3. Settler countries will have the lowest barriers to nationality and the highest naturalization rates. Indigenous population decline in each settler country correlates positively with naturalization...;
  4. Nordic countries will have residual barriers to nationality but moderately high naturalization rates based on cumulative left party power.

The Birthright Lottery by Ayalet Shachar (2009):  This one is probably the most radical attack on jus sanguinis/jus soli (or birthright citizenship) that I've ever read.  He/she makes the case that this type of citizenship is a lot like aristocracy or inherited property and privilege.  By virtue of sheer chance, some people are born into a citizenship by which (through absolutely no merit of their own) they receive certain benefits.  This is intrinsically unfair, almost feudal, and downright undemocratic.  The author says, "citizenship may be thought of as the quintessential inherited entitlement of our time" and asks "what is citizenship worth?"  Some of the remedies are quite radical and the author proposes instead another model of citizenship acquisition called jus nexi: a  "genuine-connection principle of membership acquisition, establishing that citizenship must account for more than the mere automatic transmission of entitlement."  Basically citizenship should be based on links, connections and a genuine "social fact of membership" - not just blood or place of birth.


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