Enacting European citizenship (completed)

Acts of Citizenship and the Expansion of the Political:
Performative Politics by excluded groups in Germany and Hungary
Ayse Caglar, Prem Kumar Rajaram (Central European University http://sociology.ceu.edu/faculty)

This project aims to put EU citizenship under scrutiny through the category of the people who have an ambiguous positioning within EU space, i.e. who are “in but not of EU’. For this purpose we first concentrate on the Third-Country-Nationals (TCN) and undocumented migrants in the EU (groups from without the EU citizenship), who are formally and legally excluded from EU citizenship despite their inclusion into the social, economic and political space of EU. The second category of people are those who are in fact EU citizens, but still have an ambiguous positioning within the social, political and cultural space of EU, like Roma from new member states (i.e. groups from within EU citizenship). These categories are used to provide us a lens to observe how the social and political space of EU is constituted, cleared, maintained and reproduced from without and how the excluded by becoming claimants of rights pose challenges to the boundaries of political community and and social space envisaged by the EU.
This project builds upon the conceptualization of citizenship as claimant acts of those from whom the rights are otherwise denied. These citizenship acts dwell on the outer limits of the hegemonic power and they refer to those acts that could neither be excluded completely by the centers of power, nor be captured without transforming the latter. These become acts as they imply rupture within the given definitions of the political community and the narratives of citizenship. This approach to enactment of citizenship implies an understanding of political participation beyond a narrowly defined political realm and beyond the canons of electoral politics. These Acts of citizenship ground their legitimacy and entitlements not in the existing legal and social frames but in unfamiliar or new grounds and become accessible only through fieldwork.
This specific project on in Germany explores the nature of the divides EU citizenship introduce into the polity and argues that these are not simple political ruptures as they are most often discussed in the literature, but also social ruptures that substantially endanger the conditions of equal communication, contemporaneity, thus the development of conviviality and fellowship among the fellow residents of the EU, as they deny coevalence to all of them. Berlin is taken as the site of research and through fieldwork conducted at courtrooms (mainly in family courts) including interviews with the claimants, judges, lawyers and legal organizations specializing on third country nationals, the following theoretical and methodological questions are raised about

  • the relevance of the concept of rupture in understanding the inequalities and asymmetries of EU space
  • the importance of materiality in the constitution of acts
  • the importance of ethnography
  • the judicialization of politics and the emergent politics of judicial sites.

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