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States, Citizens and Migrants



Migration is perhaps the most salient political and sociological phenomenon of the contemporary world. But it is not new. Indeed, the interaction between citizen and non-citizen is one of the oldest questions of politics – grappled with by canonical figures from Plato to Arendt. Further, it is not unique to the west – non-western states have long negotiated the arrivals of non-citizens in forms such as explorers, settlers and colonialists. What is the nature of these citizen/non-citizen interactions? How can thinking historically and theoretically about the question of migration help us understand the geopolitical phenomenon we experience today? This course draws from materials across the social sciences, history and philosophy to discuss modes of citizen/non-citizen interactions in different time periods as well as the origins, complexities and ramifications of the sociological fact of migration we experience today.

Course objectives

This course aims to challenge and destabilize the terms of contemporary discourse on migration, including what it means to be a citizen or a non-citizen, to immigrate or emigrate, to be static or in motion. These different conceptualizations will be discussed and debated in class with the aim of providing students with a vocabulary and toolkit for approaching the problem of migration today. The final project will use first-hand materials – contemporary migrant accounts, primarily in contemporary Europe – and analyze them using the empirical and conceptual frameworks treated in class.



Mode of instruction


Course Load

28 hours of classes (attendance is mandatory)
140 hours of reading and class preparation (20 hours per week over 7 weeks)
112 hours to complete the research essay
Total: 280 hours

Assessment method

Participation (20%)
Final research paper* (80%)

*The final research paper will only be graded if the student has attended the seminars.

The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Course information will be accessible via Blackboard before the start of the course.

Reading list

The reading list and the course syllabus will be posted on Blackboard before the start of the course.


See Preliminary Info