Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany

Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany

Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany

Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany

Synopsis

The difference between French and German definitions of citizenship is instructive--and, for millions of immigrants from North Africa, Turkey, and Eastern Europe, decisive. Rogers Brubaker shows how this difference--between the territorial basis of the French citizenry and the German emphasis on blood descent--was shaped and sustained by sharply differing understandings of nationhood, rooted in distinctive French and German paths to nation-statehood.

Excerpt

The state, wrote Aristotle in the Politics, is "a compound made up of citizens; and this compels us to consider who should properly be called a citizen and what a citizen really is. the nature of citizenship, like that of the state, is a question which is often disputed: there is no general agreement on a single definition: the man who is a citizen in a democracy is often not one in an oligarchy." Citizenship of the modern nation- state of course differs fundamentally from citizenship of the ancient Greek city-state. Yet Aristotle's observation has lost none of its pertinence today. We live in a world of bounded and exclusive citizenries. Every modern state identifies a particular set of persons as its citizens and defines all others as noncitizens, as aliens. Today this boundary between citizens and aliens is more important than ever. in a world united by dense networks of transportation and communication, but divided by widening economic, political, and demographic disparities, hundreds of millions of people would seek work, welfare, or security in prosperous and peaceful countries if they were free to do so. Yet because they are not citizens of such countries, they can be routinely and legitimately excluded.

Needless to say, this does not mean that noncitizens have no access to prosperous and peaceful countries. Various economic and political forces lead such countries to admit noncitizens--sometimes in large numbers--to their territories. Western Europe and North America have experienced a great surge in immigration in the last quarter-century. But this influx, large as it is, remains small in relation to the enormous global flows that would occur in a world without bounded citizenries. in a truly cosmopolitan world, as Henry Sidgwick noted a century ago in Elements of Politics, a state might "maintain order over [a] particular territory," but it would neither "determine who is to inhabit this terri-

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