Mutations in Citizenship

Ong, A. (2006). Mutations in Citizenship. Theory, Culture & Society. 23(2-3). 499-505.


Mutations in citizenship are crystallized in an ever-shifting landscape shaped by the flows of markets, technologies, and populations. We are moving beyond the citizenship-versus-statelessness model. First, the elements of citizenship (rights, entitlements, etc.) are becoming disarticulated from each other, and becoming re-articulated with universalizing criteria of neoliberalism and human rights. Such ‘global assemblages’ define zones of political entitlements and claims. Second, the space of the ‘assemblage’, rather than the national terrain, becomes the site for political mobilizations by diverse groups in motion. Three contrasting configurations are presented. In the EU zone, unregulated markets and migrant flows challenge liberal citizenship. In Asian zones, foreigners who display self-enterprising savoire faire gain rights and benefits of citizenship. In camps of the disenfranchised or displaced, sheer survival becomes the ground for political claims. Thus, particular constellations shape specific problems and resolutions to questions of contemporary living, further disarticulating and deterritorializing aspects of citizenship.

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