The Citizenship Dialectic


The article contextualizes the ongoing debate concerning civil rights in a post- September 11th world, and its effects on how we ought to conceptualize membership in our political community. This article is unique in that it situates the importance of citizenship in the larger debate, and draws meaningful comparisons to the problematic history of the construct over the life of our nation. My thesis is that despite the popular belief that citizenship connotes an equality of status, in reality, citizenship has always contained aspects that foster inequality and lead to exclusion. These are not new worries for a post-September 11th world, but they are critical questions in light of those events. The article traces the degrees of citizenship that have materialized in the Congress’s and Supreme Court’s unequal treatment of the indigenous peoples, island inhabitants, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans, and other non-whites, and thereby provides a significant context to recent constitutional debates. Ultimately, the article proposes a new vision of citizenship for the nation-state in a postmodern era.


Civil Rights and Discrimination

Date of this Version

May 2006