Citizenship

Citizenship and nationhood in Bulgaria

Dimitar Bechev
Bulgarian presidency

Citizenship legislation and the associated administrative practices highlight several key points. First, membership in a supranational entity such as the EU has far-reaching effects, erasing to some degree the distinction between citizens and non-citizens but also making Bulgaria a more attractive proposition for various “third-country nationals”. Second, the provision of citizenship via naturalisation has broadened rent-seeking opportunities and exposed institutional weakness, a painfully familiar story in post-communist Bulgaria. Third, and most important, citizenship continues to oscillate between civic and more ethnicised notions. 

To understand the roots, evolution and workings of citizenship, along with the norms and practices of inclusion and exclusion in present-day Bulgaria one must look back to history. As elsewhere in South East Europe, Bulgaria’s approach to national identity and citizenship reflects the country’s path from Ottoman rule to independent statehood.

Serbia-Kosovo agreement: political breakthrough or jobs for the boys?

Eric Gordy
Mitrovica Bridge

The widely hailed agreement reached between Serbia and Kosovo entrenches the power of clientelistic elites and is no real cause for celebration argues Eric Gordy.

This piece originally appeared in UCL SSEES Research Blog

Rolling back history: The Romanian policy of restoration of citizenship to former citizens

Costica Dumbrava
Romanian citizenship

The Romanian policy of restitution of citizenship to former citizens has mixed justifications and complex implications. Invoking the moral obligation of the state to undo historical wrongs, post-communist leaders attempted to recreate the pre-war national community by restoring citizenship to people who were left outside the borders after the Second World War. This generated critical reactions from the neighbouring countries where former Romanian citizens live, particularly Ukraine and Moldova.  Although officials insisted that the policy was not driven by ethno-nationalists ideals, recent amendments that restrict the entitlement to the restoration of citizenship to former citizens through birth suggest a nationalist conception of citizenship that is defined primarily in terms of organic ties established through birth.

“It is not citizen Dumitrescu from [the Moldovan city of] Cahul who has decided to lose his [Romanian] nationality, it’s Stalin who has decided for him.”

Romanian president, Traian Basescu

Serbian Citizenship: The Recent Developments

Marko Milenkovic
Parliament of Serbia

Over the past two years there have been more than a few interesting legal and political developments regarding the Serbian citizenship regime. Firstly, there were a number of acts adopted that are important for the regime. Secondly, citizenship itself and related issues remain at the forefront of the dispute between Serbia and the province of Kosovo over its status as an independent state.

The citizenship regime in Serbia has gone through a series of changes in the past twenty years that reflect the shifting political and ethnic landscape in the former Yugoslavia.

Territoriality and Citizenship: Membership and Sub-State Polities in Post-Yugoslav Space

Dejan Stjepanović
Bilingual street names in Istria

One of the problems of equating polities with ethno-majoritarian territories, the paper argues, is their unidimensionality. This is especially true for those polities without historical precedents or strong functional logic that would underpin the territorial boundaries. This, as some of the cases illustrate, can cause numerous problems for the viability of these polities and cement ethnicity as the only criterion defining political membership as well as rights in the long run. A few cases of multi-ethnic polities still exist but these are exceptions rather than the rule. 

 

 

This is an extended summary of a longer paper that was originally published in the CITSEE Working Paper Series and is available for download here

The citizens of the future

Eric Gordy
Youth and unemployment

The general impression one gets from the research on youth is the emergence of a large group of people who do not trust institutions and try to build their lives outside of them. They could function as citizens but are obstructed in this ambition. Their state and parties are self-serving and self-sufficient, and do not want them.

There is nothing in the recent research on young people in Serbia that will be terribly surprising to anybody who has been paying attention over the last twenty years. Young people are continuing to become more marginal as the society gets older and monopolies of opportunity become more rigid.

‘Artisans for incorporation’- An interview with Saskia Sassen

Urban City

When I speak of artisans for incorporation I am referring to the fact that any period in the turbulent history of migrations in our diverse countries, there were always some members of the host community who believed in the project of incorporating the outsider. This was not just for charity but mostly to make membership more expansive.  And whenever the outsiders were included, the host community benefited. 

Saskia Sassen is a Dutch-American sociologist noted for her analyses of globalization and international human migration. She is currently Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair of the Committee on Global Thought at Columbia University.

Investor programs: attempting to cure the struggling European economies?

Jelena Dzankic
Investor citizenship

While the return of capital may prove beneficial to Europe, the proliferation of investor programs raises the question of what citizenship is all about? It is not only the matter of the passport, but a far more complex notion. Hence by reducing the link between the individual and the state to a business contract, states effectively commodify not only citizenship but also individual rights, as these will be accessible to the ‘investor’ citizens on grounds of wealth.

While the epidemic of the economic crisis is still troubling Europe, many of the Old Continent’s countries seek out creative ways to secure a much needed injection of capital into their struggling economies. Investor programs, which enable wealthy individuals to gain residence in one of the European countries and eventually access their citizenship, are on the increase.

On trial at the women’s court: gender violence, justice and citizenship

Adriana Zaharijević
Srebrenica

Women’s Courts are radically feminist in nature because they underline that women are the most vulnerable subjects of the state, and that their personal experience of violence, rape, torture or discrimination is a political issue. The specific feminist methodology of Women’s Courts insists on an intersection between political and personal, which is given affective and aesthetic expression (women sing, weep, laugh and yell during the trials), representing thereby both their survival and resistance. Their testimonies, the space they occupy and the affectivity they are allowed to express, help to create different kinds of judicial system and juridical practices. Women’s Courts therefore aim at evolving new concepts of justice itself. 

Is alternative justice possible? If yes, how and for whom? If one begins with an assumption that formal legal systems do not side with victims and that, even if the trials prove to be fair, they do not necessarily bring justice to the victims, then one is bound to seek alternative justice. Alternative justice is needed for those who are deprived of power in political, civic and social terms.

Managing migration through earned citizenship - the deserving and the others

Biljana Đorđević
Directions

While contracts have been largely examined as potential new form of discrimination or, somewhat less worrisome, as a communitarian technique, it may be that they can also be explained as a neoliberal device for privileging those who possess the right knowledge and skills for the market. They are the ‘deserving’ ones who have ‘earned’ citizenship. The others may earn their rights only by learning a language, understanding the shared values, and becoming as profitable labourers as possible. Neoliberalism first, communitarianism to follow.

A friend of mine has started learning German. In her own words, a book she has been using is rather unfriendly for language beginners, almost as if the aim of the creators of the book was to dissuade people from learning German.

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