Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Narratives of Citizenship: Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples Unsettle the Nation-State

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

Narratives of Citizenship: Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples Unsettle the Nation-State

Article excerpt

Aloys N.M. Fleischmann, Nancy Van Styvendale and Cody McCarroll (eds), Narratives of Citizenship: Indigenous and Diasporic Peoples Unsettle the Nation-State (Edmonton: University of Alberta Press, 2011), 408 pp. Paper. £24. ISBN 978-088864-518-0.

In a nationalist sense citizenship could be considered a term of positive content, a status conferred by the nation-state by means of birth, marriage or naturalisation, which 'promises affiliation and protection at home and abroad, imposes obligations, and allows the individual to influence government decisions' (p. xix). However, as an 'extremely flexible concept' (Alejandro) it inevitably involves 'a dialectical process between inclusion and exclusion', which brings with it 'a reciprocal set of duties and rights' (Kivisto and Faist). These times of globalisation, of a modernity 'decisively at large, irregularly self-conscious, and unevenly experienced' (Appadurai), make the link between people and the 'promised' land they inhabit uncertain and undefined, a space that is not a place anymore: in such a world that is growing more heteroclite and more cosmopolitan, then, 'we are all becoming strangers', and 'only by recognizing the stranger in ourselves can we learn to live with others and achieve a multicultural, multiracial society' (Kristeva).

In this sense, the essays collected in Narratives of Citizenship represent a fundamental contribution to understand the measures of exclusion and assimilation that a nationstate takes when it comes to citizenship matters, and to comprehend, as well, the way Aboriginal and immigrants feel citizenship, both in Canada and beyond. Even if the essays are grouped in four sections dealing with the juridical, political or cultural aspects of citizenship, at a close reading, two are the basic concepts the book emphasises. …

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