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Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging

Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States

Deborah Reed-Danahay
Caroline B. Brettell
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 302
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  • Book Info
    Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging
    Book Description:

    Bringing together a transcontinental group of anthropologists,Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging, provides an in-depth look at the current processes of immigration, political behavior, and citizenship in both the United States and Europe. Essays draw on issues of race, national identity, religion, and more, while addressing questions, including: How should citizenship be defined? In what ways do immigrants use the political process to achieve group aims? And, how do adults and youth learn to become active participants in the public sphere?

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4511-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-18)
    Deborah Reed-Danahay and Caroline B. Brettell

    The political engagement and political incorporation of immigrants is a topic of pressing concern in both Western Europe and the United States. Political incorporation entails not only naturalization and the rights and duties of legal citizenship, but political and civic engagement (or forms of “active citizenship”). While rates of immigration, and numbers of nonnative-born residents, are comparable between the United States and Western European nations, Europe has been slower to recognize both the presence of immigrants and the issues that immigration presents for newcomers and their host societies. The recent introspection about national identity and citizenship in Europe provoked by...

  5. Part I Inclusion and Exclusion:: Discourses of Belonging

    • [Part I Introduction]
      (pp. 19-22)

      This first section of the book deals with immigrant belonging, with examples from the host nations of France, Italy, Ireland, and the United States. In the chapters that follow, we can see that the particular history of a country and its historical relationship to the immigrant populations entering its borders affects the modes of belonging possible for immigrants. The careful ethnographic work exhibited in these chapters illustrates the ways that belonging is a fluid process produced through relationship between the social practices of immigrants and the historical, structural, and cultural conditions within which they find themselves. The authors of these...

    • Chapter 1 Kabyle Immigrant Politics and Racialized Citizenship in France
      (pp. 23-42)
      Paul A. Silverstein

      On July 9, 2006, the national football teams of Italy and France met in the championship match of the World Cup finals in Berlin, Germany. While both countries had previously won World Cups, the presence of France in the final match came as a surprise, particularly given its first-round exit in the previous World Cup finals in 2002, and its poor showing during the preliminary rounds of the 2006 competition. Indeed, before its round of sixteen victories over Spain, most French fans and experts had all but written off the chances of their national side,Les Bleus. Searching for scapegoats,...

    • Chapter 2 On Belonging in/to Italy and Europe: Citizenship, Race, and the “Immigration Problem”
      (pp. 43-59)
      Flavia Stanley

      This chapter looks at the meanings and notions conveyed by the keywords “citizenship,” “nationality,” and “race” in transnational Europe and in Italy. While movements of people across national borders are certainly not new phenomena, many academics have noted that current trends in transnational migration have had the effect of creating more ethnic diversity in countries not usually host to permanent settlements of immigrants. The discourses surrounding nationality and citizenship cast transnational populations into the disparate categories of national, citizen and noncitizen. In Italy, those who look and act “Italian” are assumed to be citizens whereas those who look and act...

    • Chapter 3 The Irish Citizenship Referendum (2004): Motherhood and Belonging in Ireland
      (pp. 60-77)
      Angèle Smith

      Ideas of citizenship are ideas of belonging. In this chapter I examine how female asylum seekers in Ireland attempt to find some sense of belonging in their host country at a time when the Irish state has, through changes in Irish citizenship laws, changed what it means to belong in Ireland. In June 2004 a referendum was held to determine whether a change in the Irish Constitution should be made to redefine one’s rights to citizenship and hence belonging in Ireland. The vote outcome was 79 percent in favor of the amendment (BBC, 13 June 2004). As the best local...

    • Chapter 4 From the “Imagined Community” to “Communities of Practice”: Immigrant Belonging Among Vietnamese Americans
      (pp. 78-98)
      Deborah Reed-Danahay

      One of the ways to theorize the nation and a sense of belonging to it is that of Benedict Anderson’s (1983) concept of the “imagined community”—the idea that belonging to a group that one cannot see or interact with directly is based on imagining the greater unit and coming to identify with it through various media such as newspapers and novels. Anderson writes also of the sense of simultaneity necessary to nationalism that is created not only through these print media but also through rituals. If a nation is an “imagined community,” then how can immigrants imagine their place...

  6. Part II Political Mobilization and Claims Making

    • [Part II Introduction]
      (pp. 99-102)

      The four chapters in this section explore political mobilization among immigrant populations with special attention to associative practices and to factions that form as various claims to authority are made within these groups. All four chapters also illustrate the advantages of an ethnographic approach that combines close observation of political behavior “on the ground” with considerations of wider political debates and processes. The chapters by Davide Però and Michal Garapich examine Latin Americans and Poles in the United Kingdom, respectively, providing interesting comparisons about the ways in which generation and other elements of “infrapolitics” within these populations affect both their...

    • Chapter 5 Migrants’ Mobilization and Anthropology: Reflections from the Experience of Latin Americans in the United Kingdom
      (pp. 103-123)
      Davide Però

      Anthropologists have engaged little with the topic of collective action and with the relevant social scientific literature. This chapter seeks to respond to recent calls made within the discipline to engage with both. Drawing on fieldwork carried out among Latin Americans in London, this chapter shows how their mobilization is shaped by a multiplicity of factors and not merely by the political opportunity structure of the country of arrival, as the prevailing approach to migrants’ mobilizations seems to contend. In addition to indicating some of the other factors that influence migrants’ mobilization, the chapter makes some suggestions for rethinking the...

    • Chapter 6 Odyssean Refugees, Migrants, and Power: Construction of the “Other” and Civic Participation within the Polish Community in the United Kingdom
      (pp. 124-143)
      Michal P. Garapich

      Since the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the region regained its status as one of the major supply areas for migrant labor to Western Europe. The recent enlargement of the European Union and the principle of the free movement of labor have legitimized a long existing, albeit often illicit, dense web of migration networks. The sudden increase in public attention focused on migration from Accession Countries, and especially from Poland, marks a change of perception rather than reality on the ground. Suddenly it is fashionable to talk about Polish migrants. But the semantic play offered by the double meaning...

    • Chapter 7 Origin Myths, Conspiracy Theories, and Antiracist Mobilizations in France
      (pp. 144-161)
      Robert Gibb

      Over the past twenty-five years, associations have been an important vehicle for the political mobilization of immigrants and their descendants in France. The principle of freedom of association is enshrined in a specific provision of the French Common Law known as the “1 July 1901 Law” (Journal Officiel de la République Française1901). This defines an association as “the agreement by which two or more persons combine their knowledge or act together for a purpose other than that of profit-sharing” (Article 1). The right of French citizens to form such associations freely, without the need for government authorization or a...

    • Chapter 8 “Call Us Vote People”: Citizenship, Migration, and Transnational Politics in Haitian and Mexican Locations
      (pp. 162-180)
      Karen E. Richman

      Twenty-five years after the debarkation of boatloads of poor Haitians in South Florida, Haitian immigrants are becoming citizens and voting Haitian American politicians into local and statewide government offices. Meanwhile, these citizens are wooed by Haitians running in the Haitian presidential elections. They are targets of vigorous transnational campaigning even though they may not participate in the political process.

      This chapter analyzes Haitians’ transborder citizenship in light of the growing scholarly literature on migrants’ political transnationalism, in particular, the case of Mexico’s deterritorialized political space and the tenacious campaigning of the politician known as the Tomato King. Like Mexico, the...

  7. Part III New Spaces of Citizenship

    • [Part III Introduction]
      (pp. 181-182)

      Karen Richman’s chapter in the previous section addresses several aspects of transnational citizenship practice. The three chapters in this final section explore new spaces for the practice of citizenship, addressing in particular the relationship between globalization and citizenship. They demonstrate new forms of empowerment in these new spaces, and they broaden our understanding of citizenship by focusing on cultural, social, and political dimensions. Most importantly these chapters underscore the limitations of a narrow focus on legal citizenship as the basis of citizenship practice.

      The chapter by Bernard Wong addresses how local citizenship practices among Chinese entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are...

    • Chapter 9 Globalization and Citizenship: The Chinese in Silicon Valley
      (pp. 183-202)
      Bernard P. Wong

      Many scholars have suggested that globalization diminishes citizen attachment and participation in local and national institutions and will create a rootless society of transnationals who have severed their ties with family and nation states (Appadurai 1995 and 1996; Hannerz 1990, 1993, and 1996; Hannerz and Lofgen 1994) and become noncommittal flexible citizens (Ong 1999; Ong and Nonini 1996; Soysal 1994; Jacobson 1996). The present chapter will argue that this expectation is far from the truth. The data obtained from this study shows that the Chinese in Silicon Valley have made extraordinary efforts in grounding themselves economically and politically in their...

    • Chapter 10 “And Ye Shall Possess It, and Dwell Therein”: Social Citizenship, Global Christianity, and Nonethnic Immigrant Incorporation
      (pp. 203-225)
      Nina Glick Schiller and Ayse Caglar

      This chapter argues that the theology, practices, and identities deployed by born-again Christian migrants constitutes a form of social citizenship that challenges established notions of rights to territory and belonging articulated within state-based concepts of citizenship. In so doing, migrants engage in nonethnic incorporation, a form of settlement and identification that dramatically differs from those generally discussed and debated by migration theorists and policy makers. Using our research among born-again Christians in Halle/Saale, Sachsen-Anhalt, Germany, and in Manchester, New Hampshire, from 2001 to 2005, we explore the ways migrants use evangelizing Christianity to facilitate claims to social citizenship in their...

    • Chapter 11 Immigrants as Netizens: Political Mobilization in Cyberspace
      (pp. 226-243)
      Caroline B. Brettell

      A number of scholars have begun to look at the Internet as a mechanism for organizing immigrant populations, creating community, and constructing identity (Clarke 2004; Gibb 2002; Graham and Khosravi 2002; Lee and Wong 2003; Miller and Slater 2000; Mitra 2000; Panagakos 2003; Rai 1995; Sokefeld 2002; Thompson 2002). In particular they have emphasized how the Internet works to link dispersed populations to their homelands. Daniel Miller and Don Slater, for example, observe that Trinidadians who live in London, New York, Toronto, or Miami use the Internet to keep in touch with family and friends in Trinidad as well as...

  8. Afterword: Some Concluding Reflections
    (pp. 244-252)
    Nancy Foner

    The chapters in this volume offer important insights and rich data that push forward our understanding of citizenship and civic and political participation among immigrants in the United States and Western Europe. These topics are of growing interest in the immigration field and anthropologists have much to contribute to them. In this afterword, I offer reflections on several themes that come out in the chapters, including the benefits of an ethnographic approach and the effects of transnational ties on civic and political engagement. I also consider some questions that arise in beginning to think more systematically about a theme or...

  9. References
    (pp. 253-280)
  10. Contributors
    (pp. 281-284)
  11. Index
    (pp. 285-292)