«Enacting European Citizenship edited by Engin F. Isin and Michael Saward cambridge university press Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape ...»
Enacting European Citizenship
Engin F. Isin and Michael Saward
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First published 2013 Printed and bound in the United Kingdom by the MPG Books Group A catalogue record for this publication is available from the British Library Library of Congress Cataloguing in Publication data Enacting European citizenship / edited by Engin F. Isin and Michael Saward.
pages cm ISBN 978-1-107-03396-2 (hardback)
1. Citizenship – Europe. 2. Citizenship – Social aspects – Europe. 3. Group identity – Political aspects – Europe. 4. Nationalism – Europe.
5. Democracy – Europe. 6. Europe – Politics and government.
7. Europe – Social policy. I. Isin, Engin F. (Engin Fahri), 1959– JN40.E65 2013 323.6094–dc23 ISBN 978-1-107-03396-2 Hardback Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.
2 Claiming European citizenship Engin F. Isin Introduction Throughout this book we distinguish citizenship of the European Union (EU) from a broader conception of European citizenship. Especially as regards the ﬁve themes that guided our research (discussed in Chapter 1), this distinction results from conceiving Europe as an assemblage of multiple and overlapping organisations, institutions, movements, interests, agreements and actors and the European Union as one, signiﬁcant if not hegemonic, entity among others. Similarly, European citizenship is enacted through not only legal but also cultural, social, economic and symbolic rights, responsibilities and identiﬁcations that are irreducible to citizenship of the European Union. As all chapters in the book illustrate, the EU certainly plays a signiﬁcant role in the constitution of the European citizen.
There is no doubt that the European integration project and speciﬁcally the European Union are inventive enterprises that have ushered Europe into a new, arguably post-national or supranational, era (Guild 2004). As an inventive political entity it both attracts and encourages critical engagements, as the ubiquitous term ‘Eurosceptics’ evinces. Arguably, even the most ardent and self-described Eurosceptics engage with the European project in signiﬁcant ways. Thus, while it is important to insist, as we do, that the EU does not exhaust European citizenship and that the broader ‘European project’ is an important reminder of the limitations and possibilities of the ways in which the European Union has come to deﬁne and frame European citizenship, it is equally important to insist, as we also do, that without the inventiveness and the boldness through which the European Union has come to deﬁne and institute supranational legal and political norms over the past ﬁve decades, it would have been impossible to engage in the struggles over European citizenship that are such vital aspects of European society and politics today.
Yet, the EU authorities – parliamentarians, commissioners, professionals – sometimes frame the radical possibilities opened up by European citizenship in the most conﬁned and limited ways. Admittedly, the tension between 20 Engin F. Isin member states and the EU on matters of citizenship is a delicate matter. This tension is borne out daily in the media, ranging from the decisions of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to the crisis of the euro and debt. Still, there is considerable, if not urgent and necessary, need to tease out the radical possibilities opened up by EU citizenship. This issue can be illustrated by a brief discussion of what the European Commission (EC) calls its ﬁrst-ever EU citizenship report (EC 2010). The report claims that ‘those who are taking advantage of the European project by extending aspects of their life beyond national borders, through travel, study, work, marriage, retirement, buying or inheriting property, voting, or just shopping online with companies established in other Member States, should fully enjoy their rights under the Treaties’ (EC 2010: 3). The image of European citizenship that this portrays is of legal citizens of the member states of the European Union who may extend their lives beyond their borders and hence enjoy rights that treaties provide. The European project is here narrowed to the European Union and its limited (and derivative) conception of citizenship, understanding and activating the rights that citizens of member states already have outside or across national boundaries. The report addresses ‘a gap [that] still remains between the applicable legal rules and the reality confronting citizens in their daily lives, particularly in cross-border situations’ (EC 2010: 3). This gap indicates that ‘EU citizens may encounter obstacles in the enjoyment of their rights in various roles in their lives: either as private individuals, consumers of goods and services, students and professionals or as political actors’ (EC 2010: 4).
I shall return to this report on EU citizenship at the end of the chapter but there are two apposite points here. Firstly, rather than treating citizenship as claims to articulating rights that citizens currently do not have, it is narrowly focused on the obstacles to the enjoyment of those rights that they already have. This is unfortunate. One of the most promising aspects of citizenship as the linchpin of democratic order is its dynamic quality, enabling subjects as claimants. To be direct, the report conveys, perhaps unwittingly but certainly effectively, a passive image of European citizenship. Given that there is already a tension between member states and the EU, there needs to be a much more emphasis on an active and dynamic idea of European citizenship. Secondly, it also does not address those people and places that have no apparent part in the Union and yet still enact European citizenship by making claims to the arrangements of the broader European project (Balibar 2004; Rancière 1995). This is also unfortunate. For European citizenship becomes most productive precisely when it appears as citizenship-to-come, as enacted by those subjects who constitute themselves as claimants to a Europe-to-come (Derrida 1992). It is this shift from citizenship as arrangements to Claiming European citizenship 21 citizenship as enactments and back to citizenship as arrangements, which the report neglects to emphasise, that provides the core idea of this book and the project it springs from.
This chapter ranges over the key themes raised across the book and the project in order to characterise the key innovations in our understanding of European citizenship as enacted. Through a close reading of all project research papers, it provides the theoretical framework that initially guided the project and then developed throughout its life with empirical studies.
The section ‘Enacting citizenship’ offers a condensed but continuously developing concept of ‘acts of citizenship’ (Isin 2009; Isin and Nielsen 2008). The section ‘Enacting European citizenship’ focuses on project research reports and highlights various acts through which European citizenship is performed and enacted. Then I discuss the analytical and empirical challenges of theorising European citizenship in the section ‘Ambiguities and paradoxes.’ The chapter ends with the section ‘Active and activist European citizens’, which returns to the EC report on citizenship as well as the difference between performativity and enactment, making an important distinction between active and activist citizens. It concludes by urging the European Commission to ﬁnd ways of taking into account and recognising the rich and deep and yet multi-farious acts of those who make strong claims to European citizenship.
Enacting citizenship The term ‘enacting citizenship’ may sound unfamiliar if not strange. It is not commonly used, if at all, in citizenship studies or European studies. The term enactment is sometimes used in social and political theory but is still not a common concept (see Isin 2008; Law and Urry 2001; Mol 2003;
Saward 2003). The project ‘enacting European citizenship’ was about both studying European citizenship in the broader sense discussed above and developing an innovative way to investigate citizenship as ‘enactment’.
So what does the term ‘enacting citizenship’ mean? When people mobilise for legalising same-sex marriage, rally for public housing, advocate decriminalisation of marijuana or ecstasy for medical uses, wear attire such as headscarves in public spaces, campaign for afﬁrmative action programmes, demand better health-care access and services, demonstrate against austerity measures, seek disability provisions, protest against government or corporate policies and lodge court cases, they do not often imagine let alone express themselves as struggling for the maintenance or expansion of social, cultural or sexual citizenship. Similarly, when Kurds appeal to the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR), Roma occupy a public park in protest against discrimination and deportation and sex workers submit a manifesto to the 22 Engin F. Isin European Parliament, they do not express themselves as claiming or enacting European citizenship rights. Instead, they are struggling against injustices in ways that are the most practicable, reasonable and feasible for them. They are investing themselves in overcoming whatever injustices seem most important and related to their social lives, and dedicate their time and energy accordingly. That is how it should be; people do not often mobilise and rise for
or universal ideals. Still, what all these actions come to mean collectively and what they tell us about our own social and political lives is also a question that these actions raise.
This book therefore adopts two research principles on the basis of this term ‘enacting citizenship.’ Firstly, recognising that these actions are irreducibly political struggles that arise from people’s social lives, as social and political theorists we interpret them as claims to citizenship. So in that sense ‘acts’ of citizenship do not exist as such but it is we who interpret the struggles and actions as acts. Secondly, while people may not express their struggles in these terms, it is important to acknowledge that when people act, whatever differences may separate them in values, principles and priorities, they are enacting citizenship, even those who are not passportcarrying members of the state or the right state. Our aim is to provide a vocabulary with which to think about these struggles not only for our fellow social and political theorists but also for those who are directly involved in these struggles, those whom we call ‘activist citizens’. What ‘enacting citizenship’ then means in practice is that people perform their right to have rights by asking questions about justice and injustice.
Citizenship is performed in the sense that it involves being and acting with others, negotiating different situations and identities, articulating ourselves as distinct yet similar to others in our everyday lives, asking questions of right and wrong and acting as citizens. Through these social struggles, we develop a sense of our rights as others’ obligations and of others’ rights as our obligations. People may interpret or understand their domains of engagement separately from each other in enacting their social lives, but occasionally an event reminds us that we are performing citizenship. That event may happen when we are deprived of our citizenship, or when we we discover that we do not have the right we thought we did or we are not the subjects we thought we were. It is in this performative sense that citizenship is both a social and political enactment.
The reader who is familiar with contemporary social and political theory may recognize that our approach not only shares some common ground with ‘enactment’ but also with an approach that came to be known as ‘performativity’ associated with Austin, Derrida and Butler as well as Badiou, Rancière and Laclau, albeit in quite different ways. I will make references to their work as we proceed but this chapter is not about Claiming European citizenship 23 elaborating the theoretical trajectories of ‘performing’ or ‘enacting’ citizenship (see Isin 2012). Instead, it provides an outline and illustration using research papers from the ‘Enacting European citizenship’ project.
Studying citizenship as enactment starts with four propositions. These propositions are discussed elsewhere but we will brieﬂy state them here before proceeding with examples from the project (Bassel and Lloyd 2011; Isin 2009, 2012; Isin and Lefebvre 2005; Isin and Nielsen 2008;
˘ Isin and Üstündag 2008; McNevin 2011; Nyers 2006; Schaap 2010).
The ﬁrst proposition about enactment is that it involves understanding how acts produce subjects. The phrase ‘acts produce subjects’ indicates that events such as demonstrations, appeals, claims and so on create possibilities of acting in certain ways that otherwise would not be possible.
This is different from assuming that subjects already exist before they act.