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Paradoxes of Citizenship




Admission requirements

  • Classes of 2013-2016: similarly-tagged 100/200-level courses. Note for 2nd and 3rd year students interested in the Diversity & Integration track: this Paradoxes course is a renamed version of the previously taught Sources of Diversity and Inclusion course. If you have taken SDI you cannot to take this course again. Yet, if you have not taken it, you do need to enrol in this course before completing the 300 level Cases of Diversity & Inclusion (to be taught in block 3). Those of you who want to complete the D&I track, please get in touch with the instructor.

Course description

The idea of citizenships seems to be, on the one hand, a taken for granted condition: as members of a nation-state we expect to be recognised as citizens. On the other hand, what this membership entails is increasingly debated, contested and challenged in academic and popular discourses. Broadly defined, citizenship describes a status of equal membership to a self-governing political community. This community grants each member a bundle of rights in exchange of a number of duties that, in turn, protect the community. However, in societies like our, affected by increased interdependence, mobility and interconnection, the assumption of a single community that is ought to be protected, or to which we belong, is problematic. In this course we will be focusing on the contemporary problems of multi-scaled, differentiated and intersecting dimensions of membership that demand the transformation of citizenship as we know it. We will be looking at citizenship as a mechanism of inclusion and exclusion at the same time. To do so, the course will be organised on weekly units that will train your critical understanding of the various aspects involved in the definition, practices and performances of citizenship, at the local and global levels. These weekly units are:

WEEK 1 Citizenship: The political problem of belonging
WEEK 2 Theories of citizenship: Civic virtues in the republican and liberal gaze
WEEK 3 Defying citizenship: Questions of gender
WEEK 4 Defying citizenship: Questions of race and ethnicity
WEEK 5 Defying citizenship: Questions of inequality and consumption
WEEK 6 Defying citizenship: Migration, transnationality and sustainability
WEEK 7 Insurgent and critical citizenship: Local & global responses

Learning objectives

The main objective of this course is to develop in students a reflexive attitude towards their own understanding and practice of citizenship in contemporary world. The course aims is to unsettle your views regarding what is a “normal citizen”, in order to trigger your creative imagination of the kinds of citizenship we need to effectively tackle global challenges. In doing this, it is to be expected the course develop in students:

  • the ability to examine, question and take position regarding the role of the individual in reproducing structures of discrimination and exclusion, as well as her/his responsibility to change them.

  • a critical capacity to reflect about the bonds that unite us, as well as those elements that invariably distinguish and differentiate us.

  • the ability to talk about, debate and theorize about common aspects of daily life using concepts culled from the course.