Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States

Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States

Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States

Citizenship, Political Engagement, and Belonging: Immigrants in Europe and the United States

Synopsis

Immigration is continuously and rapidly changing the face of Western countries. While newcomers are harbingers of change, host nations also participate in how new populations are incorporated into their social and political fabric.

Bringing together a transcontinental group of anthropologists, this book provides an in-depth look at the current processes of immigration, political behavior, and citizenship in both the United States and Europe. Essays draw on issues of race, national identity, religion, and more, while addressing questions, including: How should citizenship be defined? In what ways do immigrants use the political process to achieve group aims? And, how do adults and youth learn to become active participants in the public sphere?

Among numerous case studies, examples include instances of racialized citizenship in "Algerian France," Ireland's new citizenship laws in response to asylum-seeking mothers, the role of Evangelical Christianity in creating a space for the construction of an identity that transcends state borders, and the Internet as one of the new public spheres for the expression of citizenship, be it local, national, or global.

Excerpt

Deborah Reed-Danahay and Caroline B. Brettell

The political engagement and political incorporation of immigrants is a topic of pressing concern in both Western Europe and the United States. Political incorporation entails not only naturalization and the rights and duties of legal citizenship, but political and civic engagement (or forms of “active citizenship”). While rates of immigration, and numbers of nonnative-born residents, are comparable between the United States and Western European nations, Europe has been slower to recognize both the presence of immigrants and the issues that immigration presents for newcomers and their host societies. the recent introspection about national identity and citizenship in Europe provoked by the fall 2005 demonstrations and political unrest in Paris, the London bombings in July of 2005, and the failure of France to ratify a new eu constitution in spring 2006 illustrate new questions being raised about what it means, for example, to be French or British. in the post-9/11 context of the United States, with a new Office of Homeland Security pushing for closer scrutiny of both visitors and immigrants, there are ongoing debates about immigration reform, border control, and the role of immigrant labor in the economy. On the streets of major metropolitan streets across the United States, thousands marched in April and May 2006 to protest various proposals (especially those of hr 4437) for immigrant reform and to plead for immigrant rights.

Little dialogue between anthropologists working in Western Europe and in the United States has yet taken place, despite these issues that touch both sides of the Atlantic. There is, however, a growing body of work among anthropologists doing research in Europe on issues of immigration and citizenship, which complements the more established ethnographic traditions of research among immigrant populations in the United States (Foner 2003c). This book contributes to such a dialogue by bringing together . . .

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