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Reading List December 14, 2018

Is Citizenship Meaningless?

A reading list on surveillance, security, and citizenship-for-sale.

What does it mean to be a citizen? Is it about being able to cast a vote? Or is it about more advanced forms of democratic participation—what Danielle Allen would term “co-creating ways of life”?

new essay from Matthew Longo argues that this question is increasingly necessary, for we are living in a world where passports are no longer guarantees of the right to belong. “It does not matter if you are an American; if you are deemed risky, you will be stopped on arrival,” Longo writes. “An Arab American woman is more likely to be stopped than is a jet-setting Swiss banker, even though she is returning home.” Citizenship, he argues, is being eroded.

This week’s archival picks would agree. Delve into the ethics of citizenship-for-sale programs; how immigrants are pressured into supporting U.S. foreign policy to show that they belong”; and W. E. B. Du Bois’s experience of having his citizenship revoked.

—Rosie Gillies


Citizenship v. The Surveillance State
by Matthew Longo

We have surrendered the cherished value of “innocent until proven guilty” for the security logic that we are all “risky until proven safe.”

• • •

The Origins of Birthright Citizenship
by Robert L. Tsai

The Fourteenth Amendment was championed by formerly enslaved blacks who insisted that everyone born in the United States deserved full citizenship.

• • •

Against National Security Citizenship
by Aziz Rana

Support for U.S. foreign policy has long been seen as a crucial way for black Americans and immigrants to show that they “belong.”

• • •

What Is Education For?
a forum with Danielle Allen

School should be about preparing young people to become democratic citizens. To do that we will need more than STEM.

• • •

When W. E. B. Du Bois was Un-American
by Andrew Lanham

Du Bois’s experience of having his citizenship revoked for protesting national policy reveals an ugly idea that is still pervasive today: that darker skin or leftist views make one less American.

• • •

Immigrants Welcome*
by Maytha Alhassen

“Trump’s ban is not an aberration but a continuation of restrictive immigration policies. From 1972 up to the present, almost every president has imposed a program, plan, or law targeting Arab, African, and Muslim populations.”

• • •

For the Wealthy, Citizenship at a Premium
by Max Holleran

“What differentiates citizenship-investors from those who go through a naturalization process is sweat equity. Citizenship-for-sale programs reject the notion of national community, even at a time of rising xenophobia in Europe.”

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