Citizenship Under Conflict: Reimagining Political Belonging

project team members
The clickable list provides information on the team members, their research interests, and the fields involved.


This project investigates the links between citizenship and conflict historically, theoretically, and empirically. A number of expanding global historical trends pose profound challenges to the conventional liberal model of citizenship, which tends to place a premium on shared values, rights, legal protections, and, to a lesser extent, civic engagement. Challenges to the classical notion of citizenship stem largely from:

  • The rise of statelessness, refugee and migration crises, and the concomitant expansion of denizenship
  • The securitization and commodification of naturalization
  • The proliferation of civil conflicts and global terrorism, which leads to the entrenchment of communities of fear
  • The emergence of risk societies that are reactionary and largely organized around perceived threats

Recent decades have witnessed diverse civil conflicts, from domestic polarization to civil war. The liberal model of citizenship presupposes the ability of citizens to be actively engaged in the governance of their communities. Conflict is usually seen as preventing people from achieving consensus, as effective adjudicatory mechanisms are deemed a necessary precondition for successful “citizenship practice” from below. On the other hand, the absence of conflict may lead to the stagnation of politics, as the practice of citizenship may thrive in moments of contestation and conflict. Historically, it has been through conflict, at times violent, that popular movements to expand citizenship rights to such groups as workers and women have been most effective. Some theorists see conflict as an inevitable and necessary part of political life. In this sense, the relationship of conflict to citizenship remains an open question.

This project will establish empirical connections between citizenship and conflict by investigating the links between citizenship and conflict at the historical level of nation-state development, examining “legal citizenship” and “active citizenship” models within contemporary states, looking at the representation of citizenship in state propaganda both historically and in the present, and considering the cognition of individual citizens. A primary aim of our interdisciplinary empirical research is to generate normative responses to the contemporary crises in citizenship.

Call for Researchers

We are interested in supplementing our team project with additional researchers in:

  • A civics-minded professional biologist or neurobiologist who is interested in studying how natural environments and brain structures impact the desire of people to actively participate in community affairs, civil society, and/or political life. Alternately, we would also welcome a biologist who is interested in researching how the evolution of the Anthropocene has influenced the conceptualization of the identity, rights and duties of “proper citizens” in different countries
  • An IT specialist who is interested in a critical assessment of e-citizenship and electronic governance. Ideally, we would prefer a researcher who would be willing to develop quantitative and graphic models of data analysis and presentation in citizenship studies

The deadline for applications is December 15, 2018.