nl en

Paradoxes of Citizenship




Admissions requirements



Citizenship is a fascinating yet contested concept: while on the one hand, under the liberal democratic paradigm, it has developed as a mechanism of increasing inclusion and recognition that has empowered the nation-state as privileged form of political organization. On the other hand it has worked, and it is working, as key mechanism of exclusion, control and surveillance over increasingly mobile and mixed populations in our societies. What are the basis of this apparent paradox? As members of a nation-state we expect to be recognised as citizens; yet what this membership entails various collateral forms of exclusion. Thus the huge amount of debates, contestation and challenges, not only in academic, but also political and popular discourses, regarding what citizenship is and what it should be.
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 have known it. We will be looking at citizenship as a mechanism of inclusion and exclusion at the same time. Some of the questions that will inform our conversations deal with what are the sources of citizenship as mechanism of inclusion, but also exclusion, in the twenty-first century? Or whether, “global citizenship” is promoting a further homogeneous or rather heterogeneous political community(ies). If so, what should be citizenship about?
The course will be organised in weekly units that will train your critical understanding of the various aspect embedded in the idea of citizenship and its concrete manifestations:
WEEK 1 Citizenship: The political problem of identity & belonging
WEEK 2 Theories of citizenship: liberals versus republicans?
WEEK 3 Transforming citizenship: Gender & race struggles
WEEK 4 Transforming citizenship: Socio-economic inequalities & trans-nationality
WEEK 5 Transforming citizenship: Consumption & sustainability
WEEK 6 Citizenship today: from education to practice, or why should we care?
WEEK 7 Insurgent citizenship: Local & global responses/responsibilities

Course objectives

The course examines the cultural, social, political and economic dimensions of the concept of citizenship given the tensions existing in our increasingly diversified political communities, striving to coexist in prosperous terms under conditions of peace and justice. When completing this course you are expected to have attained a critical understanding of the contested aspects involved in the definition, practices and performances of citizenship, at the local and global levels. In this sense, the learning aims of this course are to develop in students:

  • A critical capacity to reflect about the bonds that unite us, as well as those elements that invariably reproduce difference and distinctions among us, and the role of citizenship in framing both experiences.

  • The ability to examine, question and take position regarding the interplay of history and power dynamics affecting individuals in reproducing structures of discrimination and exclusion, as well as her/his responsibility to change them.

  • The capacity to identify the various aspects affecting our understanding of citizenship, from a scholarly, but also practical perspective.

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


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

Biweekly seminars form the main body of this course. Roughly, the structure of the seminars is based on mini-lectures that will present and address the key ideas to be discuss in the session (45 minutes); student presentations of the readings and their applicability to discuss a current contentious case-studies pertinent to the weekly unit (45 minutes); and general questions and debates (30 minutes). This will grant the introduction of knowledge as well as your ability to apply what you have read and learned to concrete daily life situations.


In-class participation, 15%, ongoing weeks 1-7;
Students presentations, 15%, weeks 2-6;
Two Response i-notes – Individual (1000 words + one image), 30% (15% each), week 2 and week 5;
Research done during week 6 (report & sources), 10%, week 6;
Final research essay – Individual (3000 words), 30%, week 8.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Scholarly literature, consisting of articles, presentations, reports and other types of evidence use in the course will be available electronically.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact


Dr. Daniela Vicherat Mattar,


Readings for the first week:

  • Geschiere, P. (2009) “Autochthony – The flip side of globalization?” in The Perils of Belonging. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (pages: 1-35)

  • Comaroff, J. & Comaroff, J. (2012) “Nations with/out borders. The politics of being and the problem of belonging” in Theory from the South. Paradigm Publishers (Pages: 91-107).