McGill University, Montreal
Friday, March 12, 2009
Citizenship and Ethnicity
Development studies are increasingly focused on democratization and the relationship between state power and issues of identity. Local communities and identity groups – ethnic, national, indigenous, religious - continuously struggle to negotiate their relations with the state and with each other in ways that may challenge conventional or legal definitions of citizenship. Collective identities may certainly exacerbate struggles between groups, but they may also create linkages, thus becoming both embedded in and inseparable from the democratization process. Increasingly, the quality of democracy is linked to inclusive citizenship regimes. These involve individual rights, but also a collectively defined “common good.” In divided societies both elements are problematic.
Traditional models of citizenship are based on a construction of the State as representing a single national group. It presupposed the construction of a nation sharing a common culture, history, language, religion. Loyalty and support for the State and the definition of the “common good” were thought to derive from identification with the national group. This model of citizenship is challenged with the multiplication of sub-national identities claiming specific rights. Group rights are at the heart of new conceptions of citizenship moving beyond the universalistic, formal equality between individuals. Debates increasingly evolve around collective versus individual rights and the meanings and forms of belonging, identity, and political membership. The challenge of citizenship in heterogeneous societies is thus to “glue” different communities and provide equitable but differentiated access to power and resources for the benefit and peaceful development of the wider society.
The aim of the workshop is to contribute with case studies which would enlighten theory with practice. The workshop format is the best way for debate and to discuss eventual further cooperation on the topic. We will give priority to papers that draw upon empirical research to offer a theoretical contribution for linking the concepts of citizenship and ethnicity. Related questions may include, but are not limited to:
- How should we conceptualize and study inclusive citizenship in ethnically heterogeneous societies?
- What political mechanisms, institutions and public policies empower different cultural groups?
- And which of these mechanisms create at the same time public spaces for inter-group cooperation?
- How to construct citizenship as “belonging” along with the simoulteneous existence and legitimacy of multiple ethnic identities?
The workshop will take place at the Centre for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS), McGill University, on Friday, March 12, 2009. Paper proposals of up to 500 words along with a 100 words biographical statement should be sent by October 20, 2008 to firstname.lastname@example.org. Small travel grants may be available to selected applicants. Please indicate in your application if you would like to be considered for the grant, and we will contact you when we know whether we have enough resources to help cover your travel costs.
Magdalena Dembinska, Ph.D.
Centre for Developing-Area Studies (CDAS)
3715 Peel Street, Office 213
Montréal (Québec) H3A 1X1, Canada
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