Preface and Acknowledgments
Citizenship is a bouquet of ideals that individuals and collectives hold dear. This ranges from the abstract, yet evocative, idea of an individual "right to have rights" (proposed by Hannah Arendt) to the mere possession of identity and travel documents that attest citizenship in international law. In between, the important collective attributes of citizenship include the recognition of a membership as an equal in a political community, as well as the duties derived from it, but also the dignity implied in that social and legal recognition of being recognized as an equal member of a community. Citizenship matters in all of these aspects: from the deepest identity conceptions, such as the self-understanding of persons as political animals, to the objective and mundane, such as the possession of a passport. People who doubt this may renounce their passport and try moving across borders. In all likelihood, their very movement will have to change as they try to avoid authorities, and the treatment they receive and their chances of finding a place to live and a job will be very different. In today's world, without documents that attest citizenship understood as nationality, a person might be seen as unworthy by authorities responsible for sorting out the rights to cross, enter, and reside in spaces under their jurisdiction, and all dignity of persons as equal is stripped as they are placed in residual legal categories left to those not possessing documents. Even if a person has a passport attesting to her or his nationality, that person may find, after moving to a jurisdiction other than the one corresponding to the authority that issued the passport, his or her contributions, stakes, interests, and social involvement in that place will be worthy of recognition as a cocitizen in some aspects, but not in others, unless she or he is capable of, and ready to, begin the process of becoming a citizen by taking up nationality of that place. The word for this is naturalization, and it already suggests that the change is supposed to reach the very core of who a person is. If a person is lucky, he or she may end up in a polity that tolerates keeping his or her original nationality so that the links to the place of origin are not severed at naturalization.
Why should citizenship be understood as depending on the affiliation to polities on the scale of nation-states rather than on other conceptions of membership? Why has citizenship (that bouquet of ideals) been boiled down to nationality? What is the relationship between these two concepts historically? What is their relation in legal practice today across the world? What are the chances to overcome it?
This book answers these questions while telling the story of the changes in citizenship from the perspective of participation rights, a subject that has fascinated me since I studied the civic education efforts of the Mexican state to create a "democratic culture" during key years of democratization. It puzzled me that something that looked like indoctrination could be justified in a democracy; that for pluralism to flourish, a particular culture that appreciates pluralism needs to be nurtured. As it turns out, liberal democracies do not leave civic commitment to free individuals to discover in a laissez faire environment. Democracies—especially new ones—seem to require citizens, as well as electoral and other institutions, to have the proper expectations about space for diversity and disagreement.
Then I became a migrant myself. Thanks to an academic exchange scholarship, I spent a year at Yale University in the United States and was repeatedly confronted with incredulous looks as people contrasted my national origin to that academic affiliation. Still, in all my frequent encounters with other Mexican migrants, I experienced nothing but kindness. Despite our very different life circumstances, they offered me solidarity. Clearly, nationality can unite people, but to which degree should national belonging be the reason to have a say in a community?
Living in Germany has relieved me of the stress of belonging to the main immigrant group in a receiving country (as was the case as a Mexican in the United States), but I quickly found that Turkish immigrants and their German-born descendants endure similar strains here. Just eighteen years ago, they were almost absolutely impeded from becoming German nationals, even those who had been born here and knew no other country than Germany. For decades, migrants in Germany had to swim against the current and integrate into a polity that had consistently denied being a country of immigration. Changes occurred slowly in Germany as it began to develop a welcoming culture and accept more diversity in society until authorities finally conceded that this is a country of immigration. Barely settled in public conscience, this disposition already faces enormous challenges. As I write these lines in 2018, the federal government's policy to accept refugees from the Middle East has practically stopped after nearly a million arrivals in 2015. Asylum law has been compromised and the rapid rise of a right-wing populist party puts pressure on governing parties to restrict basic rights, such as family reunification. Still, over the long run, Germany has facilitated naturalization for resident immigrants—not without some steps backward—through compromises that took place in the middle of the political spectrum. Likewise, today's debates on Willkommenskultur (welcoming culture) toward refugees are not spontaneous: they are a precious good that has taken much effort from many actors and much time to develop.
An early draft of this work was recognized by the German Association of Political Science (DVPW)'s Section on Migration Politics/Policy in 2014, and it received an honorary mention from the American Political Science Association's Migration and Citizenship Section. I owe my deepest gratitude to the selection committees in both associations and to the people who helped me in the early stages of research and writing, especially to Rainer Baumann and Rainer Bauböck for sharing with me their expertise and dedication. I am especially honored that my research was distinguished with an award carrying Dietrich Thränhardt's name; he is not only a giant in migration studies but also a pioneer who, in four decades, has never ceased to fight for the enfranchisement of noncitizen resident migrants, the very topic of this book. His professional trajectory demonstrates that scientific rigor and brilliance can go hand in hand with convictions and humbleness. When I feel discouraged, I only have to remind myself of his example to regain motivation.
I want to thank some institutions or, more precisely, the people behind those institutions for their support of my research: the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), the international network of researchers DesiguALdades.net, and the German Institute of Global and Area Studies. My thanks also go to the Central European University, where I have done most of my teaching, and where I have learned much from my students and colleagues. Thilo Bodenstein, Nick Sitter, and Matteo Fumagalli gave me the chance to become their peer in that community. My gratitude also goes to people who have inspired, read, and commented on my work: Uwe Hunger, Viola Zentai, Kristina Hahn, Petra Kovacs, Jolanda van der Noll, Bert Hoffmann, Hannes Mosler, Matthias Wingens, Leticia Calderón, Alexandra Délano, Roswitha Pioch, and Stefan Rother. For their moral support and guidance in difficult times as I neared the end of this book project, I am grateful to six bright, inspiring, generous women: Erin K. Jenne, Onawa P. Lacewell, Beth Coffey, Jasmin Lorch, Elizabeth Cohen, and Mariana Llanos. For their unconditional love in the distance, I am grateful to my parents, Rosalba and Julio; my sisters, Frinee and Julianne; and my friends Cristal, David, Dionisio, Jackie, Julieta, Lili, Ofayra, Olmo, and Vanessa. Thanks to Achim, for unsparingly giving me reassurance through the years I worked on this book and even the occasional push to finish it.
I try to apply an interdisciplinary social scientific perspective to my research and my writing but, admittedly, I use more often the specific lens of a political scientist, which led me to focus on forums where the main actors debating the enfranchisement of resident immigrants were political elites. I also sought to apply, and partly to develop, tools of analysis that are as transparent as possible to portray and interpret those debates.
Still, the impetus for writing this book cannot be substantively disentangled from the efforts made by people who fight on the ground for migrants' participation rights beyond academia. Every day, many people around the world continue to fight for this. It is not only migrants who devote their scant free time to the battle for citizen rights; in a spirit of empathy, many native citizens are at the forefront of these movements. The collective enthusiasm of both nationals and nonnationals to fight for citizen rights for nonnationals activates the best there is within citizenship as a concept and practice—much more than any passport will ever do, and much more than nationality, which is mostly an arbitrary attribution of membership in a nation that determines our chances to move and to have rights depending on where we are born and to whom. The common actions of nationals and nonnationals make it worthwhile to preserve citizenship as an institution, despite all its legalistic traps.
A few persons, especially in the lingering German case, have been doing this for almost forty years, serving continuously or intermittently as scholars or citizens, or both. Their zeal may have flowed and ebbed with the tides of politics; at times, they were disheartened by decisions that seemed to condemn the cause to failure. But over the long run, many stood their ground and adapted their efforts. By doing that, they made a difference for German politics and academia.
For many persons fighting for denizen enfranchisement today, it is not clear how old this fight is. They follow a path opened by other highly committed people in the past. This book shows the significance of old and new efforts and how they are connected over time and space. I dedicate it, with all my admiration, to those who have fought for enfranchisement as well as to those who have joined this fight recently and keep fighting for it today. This book illustrates the success of their perseverance, and it looks for the clues to understand the—hopefully, temporary—setbacks and help clear the obstacles ahead. These persons inspired me to write a book that would be able to locate their efforts within a big picture in the hope that more people will know, and join in.