IPACS

PACS - Identity politics and acts of citizenship (IPACS)

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  • Project duration: August 2021 - December 2022
  • Project status: ongoing

Debates on citizenship continue to be state- and nation-centric, focusing on citizenship as a formal legal status that is awarded by state actors to some people but not to others. Citizenship is, however, also always contextual to a person’s lived experience and a place’s culture and history. This research project pays attention to acts of citizenship below and beyond the scale of the nation state, shifting to lived experiences of citizenship. Through an actor-centred approach, it critically investigates the alternative meanings and practices of citizenship in places located at the margins of a state by actors considered to be at the margins of the state.

The project is structured around two main research questions:

1) How are perceptions of citizenship of people with migratory background shaped by locally specific discourses surrounding (national) citizenship and (local) identity?

2) How, in turn, do people with migratory background challenge, disrupt and redefine established, nation-based meanings of citizenship through daily acts of citizenship?

To explore these questions, I adopt an actor-centred approach to focus on the perceptions, acts and experiences of second-generation youth in the autonomous province of South Tyrol, Italy. Data is collected primarily through semi-structured interviews and focus groups with second generation youth aged 18-30, both with and without Italian citizenship.

The research project aims to highlight a) the multiple layers of meaning associated to citizenship in minority contexts and b) the importance of sub-state spaces as key political sites where a variety of actors – whether they are formally citizens or not -- negotiate, challenge and redefine the meaning of citizenship as defined and prescribed by the nation-state.  Examining the acts and lived experiences of citizenship, which are always related to people’s experience of social, cultural and economic inclusion and exclusion, and paying attention to the local, supranational and transnational forces that shape them, enhances our understanding of the broader transformations concerning citizenship and political (dis)engagements in general. In adopting this perspective, this research project draws on, and contributes to a growing body of scholarship that ‘re-centres’ and ‘decentres’ citizenship, by studying it at, from and for the margins.

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