Shadi Chaleshtoori (B.A., M.A, J.D.) is currently a PhD. student at York University, in Toronto, Canada. Shadi has been an active participant in NGOs, research centres, and grassroots coalitions in the areas of social justice and minority rights; and has, for the past six years worked with the Palestinian citizenry of Israel to examine the legal and socio-political concepts of citizenship, minority status, and statelessness. Here she has concentrated on their respective dynamics of inclusion and exclusion and their potential use of citizenship as a creative and subversive tool against the ruling establishment. Shadi is currently writing a book on the colonial logic of Israeli democracy and citizenship to be published in February 2013.

Seminar: “Deconstructing Citizenship: Subjects, Status and States”
Saturday November 10, 2012 at 10:00 to 16:00 – Campus in Camps Al Feneiq Center, Deheishe Refugee Camp by Shadi Chaleshtoori.

Part One: Theorizing Citizenship

The seminar will begin by examining the relations of inclusion and exclusion embedded in the institution of citizenship. For the most part, nation-states use the citizenship framework as the primary organizing relation between the state and its constituents, or citizens. Traditional readings of citizenship depict it as the intersection of identity and law, where both a national belonging and a constitutionally recognized membership in a state are articulated. Citizenship is conventionally conceived of as a mechanism of civic incorporation within a state; a form of social membership used as a basis for claim-making with which comes access to rights, privileges, and freedoms allocated and protected by state institutions. Looking at its resurfacing definitions, we will discuss two main points: First, that the notion of citizenship was not always deemed as politically committed to a city-state framework. Here, particular attention is paid to recent scholarly literature that problematizes both the boundaries of legal categorizations, and readings of contemporary citizenship as anchored in a territorialized nation-state.

And second, we will look at the necessary otherizing that lies at the root of the concept and process of citizenship: the creation and maintenance of an Other, a non-member or outsider excepted from the social arrangement. Our readings will show how the concept of citizenship is rooted in a relation of exception which continues to shape its vertical and horizontal peripheries. It is here where stateless persons, asylum seekers, refugees, foreigners, temporary workers, guests and aliens are located. Taken together, we are interested in the margins of citizenship, in the gaps of the juridico-political order, where the vulnerable and unwanted non-members of the nation-state reside.

Part Two: From Subjects to Citizens

The second part of the seminar will move on to a discussion of the formation of citizen-subjects. Given that much of the focus has been on the status of citizenship, we will aim to outline a different perspective on the question of how subjects of rights and responsibilities enact themselves as citizens. Here the acts of citizenship as an object of investigation that is distinct from (but related to) the status of citizenship will be examined. Acts of citizenship can no longer simply be accessible to those with legal status: those who do not have status also demonstrate that they are capable of acting as claimants; and those who do have status may not be able to act as citizens. Among other questions, we will ask: Under what conditions do subjects act as citizens? What does it mean to be a citizen? How do subjects transform themselves into actors? Taken together, the effect of this shift to practices and acts of citizenship will be an examination of routines, rituals, customs, norms and habits of the everyday through which subjects become citizens.

Part Three: Borders and the ‘Neurotic Citizen’

We will end the seminar with a discussion of borders as a unique political space, in which both sovereignty and citizenship are performed by individuals and sovereigns. Unlike checkpoints, borders represent a legal admission by a sovereign into the domain of his/her authority and protection. The border inspection is a primary institution of citizenship which contains, disciplines, and normalizes the passage from the anarchic, dangerous international to the political, safe domestic. What is at play in the border examination relies on an embedded confessionary complex and the ‘neurotic citizen’, as well as structures of identity, documentation, and data management (Salter, 2008). Wherever the border is located, however it is managed, the border has been and continues to be an ongoing state of exception – for both citizens and non-citizens. Though borders may be at airports, rail stations, terminals, screening points, or the structural/physical frontier, the processes we will examine remain the same: an individual requests entry to a space, a claim which is adjudicated by a sovereign official and granted or refused.

But what happens to the citizen-subject at the border? Routine performance of the border (on both citizens and non-citizens) creates the subject and the sovereign through the submission of the traveler and the recognition of the sovereign. Within the imagined nation-state, the ability to define admission or rejection of both citizens and non-citizens depends upon the assumption that mobility requires a certain adjudication by a sovereign. Thus, just as criminal guilt is defined externally by experts, so too is the moral quality of mobility decided by external ‘experts’ of citizenship, security, and hospitality. With this, the border examination represents a space where citizens, migrants, residents, and refugees come to recognize themselves and the sovereign power of the state to define them (Salter, 2006, 2008). At the border, ‘we are all exiles’, ‘we are all enemies’, and at the moment of the examination, the citizen, the foreign and the refugee are simply surplus categories (Salter, 2008).

Reading Materials:

Citizenship in flux: The figure of the activist citizen (No. 29: 367-388.) [ENG]
Throughout the twentieth century the figure of citizenship that has been dominant since the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has begun to change…

When the exception becomes the rule: borders, sovereignty, and citizenship ( Vol.12, No.4 – August 2008: 365-380) [ENG]
Borders are a unique political space, in which both sovereignty and citizenship are performed by individuals and sovereigns.

Outline of a Theory of Citizenship ( Sociology Vol. 24, No. 2 (1990): 189-217.) [ENG]
The Problem if citizenship has re-emerged as an issue which is central, not only to practical questions concerning access to health-care systems, education, and the welfare state…

We are all refugees.(International Journal of Refugee Law. Vol.4, No.3 (1992): 365-372.) [ENG]
When we think of durable solutions for refugees we first think of return to country of origin through voluntary repatriation…