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Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging

Immigrants in Europe and the United States

Edited by Deborah Reed-Danahay and Caroline B. Brettell

Publication Year: 2008

Bringing together a transcontinental group of anthropologists, this book 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? Among numerous case studies, examples include instances of racialized citizenship in "Algerian France," Ireland's new citizenship laws in response to asylum-seeking mothers, the role of Evangelical Christianity in creating a space for the construction of an identity that transcends state borders, and the Internet as one of the new public spheres for the expression of citizenship, be it local, national, or global.

Published by: Rutgers University Press


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The idea for this book emerged from field research that we are currently conducting on citizenship and civic engagement in two immigrant populations, Vietnamese and Asian Indians, in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area. We are grateful to the Russell Sage Foundation for...

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pp. 1-17

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...

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Part I: Inclusion and Exclusion: Discourses of Belonging

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pp. 19-21

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...

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Chapter 1: Kabyle Immigrant Politics and Racialized Citizenship in France

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pp. 23-42

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...

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Chapter 2: On Belonging in/to Italy and Europe: Citizenship, Race, and the “Immigration Problem”

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pp. 43-59

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...

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Chapter 3: The Irish Citizenship Referendum (2004): Motherhood and Belonging in Ireland

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pp. 60-77

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...

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Chapter 4: From the “Imagined Community” to “Communities of Practice”: Immigrant Belonging Among Vietnamese Americans

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pp. 78-97

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...

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Part II: Political Mobilization and Claims Making

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pp. 99-101

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...

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Chapter 5: Migrants’ Mobilization and Anthropology: Reflections from the Experience of Latin Americans in the United Kingdom

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pp. 103-123

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...

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Chapter 6: Odyssean Refugees, Migrants, and Power: Construction of the “Other” and Civic Participation within the Polish Community in the United Kingdom

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pp. 124-143

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...

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Chapter 7: Origin Myths, Conspiracy Theories, and Antiracist Mobilizations in France

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pp. 144-161

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...

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Chapter 8: “Call Us Vote People”: Citizenship, Migration, and Transnational Politics in Haitian and Mexican Locations

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pp. 162-180

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...

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Part III: New Spaces of Citizenship

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...

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Chapter 9: Globalization and Citizenship: The Chinese in Silicon Valley

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pp. 183-202

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...

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Chapter 10: “And Ye Shall Possess It, and Dwell Therein”: Social Citizenship, Global Christianity, and Nonethnic Immigrant Incorporation

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pp. 203-225

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...

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Chapter 11: Immigrants as Netizens: Political Mobilization in Cyberspace

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pp. 226-243

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...

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Afterword: Some Concluding Reflections

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pp. 244-251

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 fi eld...


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pp. 253-280


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pp. 281-284


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pp. 285-292

E-ISBN-13: 9780813545110
E-ISBN-10: 0813545110
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813543291
Print-ISBN-10: 0813543290

Page Count: 302
Illustrations: 1 photograph
Publication Year: 2008

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Political participation -- United States.
  • Political participation -- Europe.
  • Immigrants -- Political activity -- Europe.
  • Citizenship -- United States.
  • Citizenship -- Europe.
  • United States -- Emigration and immigration -- Social aspects.
  • Europe -- Emigration and immigration -- Social aspects.
  • Immigrants -- Political activity -- United States.
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