Citizens Without Frontiers
Engin F. Isin
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States define who their citizens are and exert control over their life and movements. But how does such power persist in a global world where people, ideas, and products constantly cross the borders of what the states see as their sovereign territory?
This groundbreaking work sets to examine and interprets such challenges to offer a new way of thinking about citizenship. Abandoning the sovereignty principle, it develops a new image of citizenship using the connectedness principle. To do so, it interprets acts of citizenship by following "activist citizens" across the world through case studies, from Wikileaks and the Gaza flotilla to China's virtual world and Darfur.
Written by a leader in the field, this accessible and original work imagines citizens without frontiers as a politics without community and belonging, inclusion without exclusion, where the frontier becomes a form of otherness that citizens erase or create. This unique work brings forth a new and creative way to approach citizenship beyond boundaries that will appeal to anyone studying citizenship, social movements, and migration.
citizenship’. It is in this chapter that I begin to indicate that ‘citizens without frontiers’ traverse not only actual frontiers (borders, boundaries, zones) but also virtual (or symbolic) frontiers by acting in place of or against how they are supposed to act. I name this broader conception of citizenship ‘traversing citizenship’. Chapter 6 returns to sovereignty and connectivity narratives and suggests how citizens traversing frontiers reveal possibilities of politics without frontiers and how
movements without frontiers share a non-commercial and non-profit ethos with activism and volunteerism. They can even be considered as a species of global activism and perhaps share some elements with international volunteerism. Yet, these movements indicate a new kind of politics for which we do not yet have a name; or perhaps we have not yet taken seriously the name they have given themselves. Professions, citizens, activists Going back to MSF – its ethos, concerns and limits or, more
fleeting moment of the deed is past.31 The full meaning of an act can only be produced when it has ended. We can already see many of the themes that dominate the way I use the term ‘act’ to defi ne forms, 9781441116055_Ch04_Final_txt_print.indd 115 8/21/2001 10:14:29 AM 116 CITIZENS WITHOUT FRONTIERS repertoires, or descriptions of social action. However, Arendt does not distinguish between ‘acts’ and ‘action’ and is ambiguous about the difference between ethical and political acts (and
nations, cities, sexualities, 9781441116055_Ch04_Final_txt_print.indd 133 8/21/2001 10:14:33 AM CITIZENS WITHOUT FRONTIERS 134 ethnicities and so on, we inevitably deploy them as ‘containers’ with fi xed and given boundaries. These are jurisdictions: territorialized authority. By contrast, when we begin with ‘sites’ and ‘scales’ with fluid and dynamic elements formed through contests and struggles, their boundaries become a question of empirical determination. We have seen that sites are
especially from the middle of the twentieth century onwards, another figure of the political has also been emerging. This figure does not yet have a name but has a history. The dispossessed, marginalized, subjugated, subaltern, nomadic, excluded, at least in intellectual and activist imaginaries, has become the figure through which the political is enacted, theorized and understood. This figure has mobilized and assembled different spaces of imagination and imaginations of space. The agora,