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Citizenship (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)

Citizenship (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)

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Publication Date: November 12th, 2019
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The story of citizenship as a tale not of liberation, dignity, and nationhood but of complacency, hypocrisy, and domination.

The glorification of citizenship is a given in today's world, part of a civic narrative that invokes liberation, dignity, and nationhood. In reality, explains Dimitry Kochenov, citizenship is a story of complacency, hypocrisy, and domination, flattering to citizens and demeaning for noncitizens. In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, Kochenov explains the state of citizenship in the modern world.

Kochenov offers a critical introduction to a subject most often regarded uncritically, describing what citizenship is, what it entails, how it came about, and how its role in the world has been changing. He examines four key elements of the concept: status, considering how and why the status of citizenship is extended, what function it serves, and who is left behind; rights, particularly the right to live and work in a state; duties, and what it means to be a “good citizen”; and politics, as enacted in the granting and enjoyment of citizenship.

Citizenship promises to apply the attractive ideas of dignity, equality, and human worth—but to strictly separated groups of individuals. Those outside the separation aren't citizens as currently understood, and they do not belong. Citizenship, Kochenov warns, is too often a legal tool that justifies violence, humiliation, and exclusion.

About the Author

Dimitry Kochenov is Professor of EU Constitutional Law at the University of Groningen, the Netherlands. He has held visiting appointments and fellowships, among other places, at Princeton University (LAPA), the College of Europe (Natolin), the Universty of Turin, NYU Law School (Emile Noël Fellow), and the Institute for Global Studies (Basel). He has served as a consultant for governments, law firms, and international institutions, including the Maltese Republic, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the European Parliament. He is the author of EU Enlargement and the Failure of Conditionality.

Praise for Citizenship (The MIT Press Essential Knowledge series)

"[A] spirited contribution to the MIT Press’s Essential Knowledge series. Kochenov sees the institution of citizenship, not its byproduct of statelessness, as the real problem. He does not hold back his disdain, defining citizenship as ‘a heritage glorifying servility, racism, sexism, and arbitrary exclusion,’ a tool for ‘simplifying the world’ and ‘rendering people governable,’ a gateway to complacency, intellectual laziness, and oppressive categorizations. Statelessness is a problem only because of how unequal and arbitrary the institution of citizenship is to begin with: it is assigned at birth and seldom earned, so most people never have a say in it. Further, the ‘mythology of the equality of different nationalities’ only makes things worse: it leads us to believe that any citizenship should be sufficient for meeting the needs of individuals."  –The New York Review of Books

"Kochenov's book should be a wake-up call for constitutional and international theorists and practitioners to promote an agenda for redefining citizenship as well as the structures governing it." –International Journal of Constitutional Law