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This project explores how the concept of citizenship is being redefined around the world. At a time when momentous world events, from the Arab Spring to Occupy, call for a deeper understanding of the purpose and power of citizenship, this project opens up the boundaries of citizenship by exploring political subjectivities within and outside ‘Europe’ broadly understood. It starts with a profound tension between two different institutions: citizenship, the process by which political subjectivity is recognised and enacted, and orientalism, the process by which Europe is considered the birthplace of ‘universal ideas’ such as democracy, secularism, rights, and capitalism. What is the tension? Read on...

Articles in date order:

The promise of citizenship: autonomy and abject choices

Can we imagine the conditions under which the promise of citizenship could be fulfilled? This is only imagineable ‘after orientalism’, but can we imagine such a state? Let us start from where we are now, and work out what would have to happen to the central notion of ‘autonomy’.

Welcome to the age of resistance

I plead guilty to the indictment of avowed optimism. We have entered an age of resistance for which we must build an analytics. New forms, strategies and subjects of resistance and insurrection appear regularly without knowledge of or guidance from Badiou, Zizek or Negri.

The constituent assembly of the commons (CAC)

This bottom-up lawmaking project is an opportunity for us to reflect on the role the law can play as a strategy of struggle and resistance against the neoliberal policies of commodification and privatization. 

What is the fifth estate?

For the first time since 1848, a renewed Europe from the bottom up is possible: with the new social coalitions of the Fifth Estate.

Indebted citizenship - an interview with Rosi Braidotti

Effective intersectional analysis involves a recognition that advanced capitalism has given us endless subjective differing as process, disengaged from revolution. (Video, 41 minutes)

Acts, affects, calls

What art accomplishes in performing politics is to govern (placing beings into play with one another) bodies through affects. This is to realize that building broader coalitions and involving more people will require calling them forth not merely with arguments (life is no argument) but also through affects.

Why an empty space (a tent) in an occupied theatre? (During a meeting on the city and art).

It was brought there without any intentions other than that of being here as a sign speaking for itself. This was the action: setting up a light emergency tent. 

Introducing Teatro Valle – searching for a European commons

‘European citizenship’ is a ‘constituent’ process that emerges, develops and is constantly elaborated within social practices. How does the practice of the commons effect it? This week’s guest feature reports back on an experiment conducted last September in Teatro Valle. 

The austerity of the commons: a struggle for the essential

In a precarious context induced by a struggle for the essential, one term has re-emerged as indispensable, providing many of us with a new sense of direction, creation and sharing, and ultimately, like a boomerang, assuming the ‘austere’ dignity of that which cannot be renounced: the commons.

Indebted citizenship - an interview with David Harvey in Teatro Valle

Austerity doesn't make sense economically: but it does make sense as a politics of autocracy and the securitized state. Europe should learn from China and Latin America. (Video, 17 minutes).

Spatial struggles: Teatro Valle Occupato and the (right to the) city

Teatro Valle is an ancient theatre in Rome, which, following its occupation by a large group of citizens in 2011, has become internationally renowned as an experimental space for new social, political and cultural practices revolving around the idea of direct democracy and the ‘common good’ (bene comune).

Saving Europe: reformulating the rules

A Europe of welfare states, relatively free and democratic, with social provisions that allow for more emancipation and personal sovereignty: this must be saved, through a citizens’ pact to strive for more democracy. But first, we must face up to the full scale of the crisis. (Video, 25 minutes).

Where are Europe's leaders?

How do we assess performance, visibility and power in a European context? And why has the EU's leadership failed to engage with Europe's citizens? (Video, 18 mins)

Who are Europe's citizens?

This introduction to an event on enacting European citizenship asks: who are Europe's citizens, how are they asserting their rights and how can they engage with institutions? (Video, 15 mins)

How can Europe be shaped from a citizen's perspective?

The co-president of European Alternatives talks about engaging European institutions and insists upon the possibility of creative, experimental and imaginative forms of European citizenship (Video, 11 mins)

One word for Europe

What kind of Europe would you like to live in? (Video, 1 min 10s)

Citizenship, knowledge and the limits of humanity

The question of citizenship lies at the heart of the legitimacy of rule and political subjectivity, but its origins are European and orientalist. In a dewesternizing world, how can citizenship be reconceptualised? (Video, 33 minutes)

The contested spaces of the politics of universalism

A recent Dutch asylum case offers an opportunity to explore how universalism is being renegotiated within the frames of location, culture and citizenship. (Video, 15 mins)

Between colonizer and colonized: the political subjectivity of the settler

'Settler colonialism' has greatly influenced the way we think about colonialism and orientalism. But analysis of the writings of British settlers in the United States reveals that the political subjectivity of the settler is distinct from that of the colonizer (Video, 20 mins)

Footnotes on citizenship from rural India

Contrary to the dominant narrative of a vibrant democracy with a strong record of integration, many in India are in effect non-citizens. Citizenship cannot reach its potential unless there is a commitment to achieve equality and justice in practice. (Video, 33 mins)

Corruption and change in India

In this interview Bela Bhatia discusses the anti-corruption movement in India, the endemic failures of the Indian system and the challenge of producing a people's knowledge for change. (Video, 7 minutes)

The politics of piety and secularism

In this video interview from the Oecumene project's second symposium, Saba Mahmood discusses Malala Yousufzai, women's reform movements in the Middle East and the politics of piety.

Religious liberty, the minority problem and geopolitics

In a keynote lecture from the Oecumene project's second symposium, Saba Mahmood shows that religious liberty is a mechanism of statecraft and discusses the implications for religious minority populations.

Deorientalizing citizenship? An introduction to the second Oecumene symposium

In the first of a series of videos from the Oecumene project's second symposium on citizenship, orientalism and colonialism, Engin Isin discusses the major themes addressed in the symposium and outlines the future for the project

Walter Mignolo on orientalism and occidentalism

In this interview from the Oecumene project's second symposium, Walter Mignolo introduces his thinking on de-colonial political subjectivity

Stories of revolution and rivers that run dry

The author encounters a plethora of narrations that examine in the most beautifully chaotic of ways the reluctant hope and the lingering pain that sediment within the word, ‘revolution’.

Burning cars in the banlieues as acts of citizenship

The worlds of concrete, the car and masculinity are ways to delve into acts which have only so far attracted attention for their violence and destructive capability. 

Kanak Attak: discursive acts of citizenship in Germany

Kanak Attak in Germany is an anti-racist collective of people with mixed ethnic backgrounds who aim to turn the dominant discourse on migration upside down. They invite us to consider the role of intellectuals in migration regimes.

Legitimating immigration regimes in the European Union

The threat that immigration poses to so-called western democratic values ​​is increasingly the subject of neo-orientalist public discussion: it willingly refers to the (often Muslim) migrant as a savage, uncivilized, terrorist ‘other’; an ‘anti-citizen’. If we are to arrive at a model of citizenship beyond orientalism, we need to abandon current border and citizenship regimes.

British-Muslim family law and citizenship

Muslims in Britain marry, divorce, bring up their children and deal with death by resorting to a variety of norms such as Sharia law, English family law and customary law. The sole legal framework of state law within which western conceptions of citizenship are imagined is in contrast to British-Muslim family law, a set of new hybrid legal practices of citizenship.

Migrants as activist citizens in Italy

In 2010 and 2011 migrants behaved like activist citizens throughout Italy, initiating a new cycle of struggles in the crisis of neoliberalism. Their contestation of an exclusionary, racialized and competitive model of society could become a goal shared by migrants and nationals alike.

Mathas, gurus and citizenship in colonial India

Strong religious, communal and kinship ties in non-European societies were treated as evidence of their inability to produce modern citizenship. How then, did religious institutions called mathas in South India in the early twentieth century successfully express their political will through acts of devotion to their gurus?

Writing as resistance in postcolonial India

The Indian government has justified the construction of the Sardar Sarovar megadam as a national instrument of democratization, potentially supplying drinking water to millions of people. Activists claim that dams form part of a biopolitical apparatus, causing displacement and relocation for indigenous people. Their fightback questions ‘modernity’, ‘development’ and ‘justice’.

The creation of Palestinian citizenship under an international mandate: 1918-1925

An internationally-recognised citizenship of the Arab Middle East designed during the era of mandates by the British came out of exclusively colonial processes, despite the fact that the British were meant to be an international trustee in Palestine.  This article explores what happened.

Truth and Reconciliation: a new political subjectivity for post-Yugoslavs?

'Truth and Reconciliation' is a paradigm entrapped within the limits of the existing state’s institutional framework, depending on the ‘good will’ of political elites, its truths depoliticised and medicalised. This bars the creation of a newly liberated citizen.

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