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Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon semester 2019
Course Coordinator and Team: Dr. Anushka Singh
Email of course coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
Aim: The course aims to familiarize the students with citizenship debates both within and beyond the conventional lens of looking at citizenship as a legally recognized right. The attempt is to connect the theoretical literature produced on citizenship with empirical realties of citizenship practices while bringing in issues of contemporary concern such as migration, national register, surveillance etc.
On successful completion of this course, students will be able to
Brief description of modules/ Main modules:
The customary lens of looking at citizenship as a legal status invariably gives rise to a discursive space where struggles around legal recognition bring to fore the differentially envisaged notions of the political. One the many ways thus in which the citizenship debates manifest is the contest of the political with and over the legal. The struggles for citizenship towards the realization of its democratic potentials stands entwined with the process of constant derecognition and segregation in order to mark the distinction between the citizen and the other. This course tries to examine this juxtaposition of the citizen with the other where law emerges as the arbitrator in the liminal spaces of contest for and omission from citizenship.
The relationship between the citizen and the other, far from being that of simple exclusion, manifests in form of diverse mutually constitutive binaries where the category of citizen stands distinct from the criminal, the migrant, the refugee, the suspect, the infiltrator, etc. Each of the categories occupying the liminal space of citizenship is subjected to specific gazes of law where the nature of the legal gaze defines its political existence. This course in context of the citizenship discourse in India studies the citizen and the other. While the course borrows from the theoretical literature from the west as well, the thematic is specifically examined in context of India with the help of a historical perspective, jurisprudential insights and the Indian scholarship on citizenship looking at both its evolution and contemporary forms.
Understanding Citizenship- theoretical frameworks
The beginning module addresses the question of how to look at the concept of citizenship in its oscillation between a legal status and a terrain of political struggles. The modules revisits the established works on the theme drawing both from political theory and political processes to advance the claim of citizenship being an essentially contested concept. The learnings of this module serve as methodological tools to examine the debates in the following modules.
Commencement of the process of othering: conflicts over full membership
This module traces the idea of the mutually constitutive binary construct of the citizen and the other while placing it within the idea of statelessness in political philosophy, the engagement with the question of moral versus legal rights and the location of the nationality question in the citizenship debate. The module then looks at the legal-institutional processes specifically in context of India that render the (in)visibility of the ‘other’ and its lightness within the discourse of rights and justice. It looks at the category of the liminal citizens in India emerging from the shadow of partition such as the displaced persons, the abducted persons, the alien women etc. and the framework of citizenship laid down adjacently.
Figure of the Migrant- the Ambiguous, the Illegal and the ‘desirable’
While the previous module focusses on the liminal categories at the dawn of independence in India allowed compromised and unequal legal identification, this module focuses on the increasing impulses of legal differentiation within citizenship discourse manifested in relation to the migrants. The dominant paradigm in relation to the migrants has found reflection in the institutional responses towards them ranging between peripheral recognition, de-recognition, and illegalization, alongside the corresponding political discourse of criminalization and even the threat of deportation. The modules looks at the figures of the Chitmahals, the Chakma, the Rohingyas, etc. An ideological shift away from the dominant paradigm however, has been witnessed in the impulse within citizenship discourse to recognize categories of migrants based on origin, descent and effectively religion. Thus, the latter part of the module enters the debate over the citizenship categories of Persons of Indian Origin, Overseas Citizen of India and the current tensions around the Citizenship Amendment Bill 2016.
Security discourse and the Suspect Citizen
The security discourse as an entry into the theme of citizenship destabilizes the binary between the citizen and the other as the security imperative unfolds a parallel process of othering within the category of the entrenched citizen where the lines of otherness are drawn along the law-abiding good citizen as distinct from the dissident suspect citizen. The dissident citizen then becomes the subject of the state’s panopticon. While the governing gaze on the liminal zone of citizenship stands intact subjecting the peripheral citizens and the illegals to increasing surveillance, their semblance of existence with the suspect citizens adds further complexities to citizenship debates.
Politics of the Governed and its consequences
This module moving beyond the institutional-legal framework of citizenship, looks at the citizenship practices from below and their politics of survival bordering and often occupying the zones of illegality yet being jurisgenerative. Advancing the idea of insurgent citizenship, this module focuses on the myriad struggles and mobilizations carried out by those on the margins of the citizenship entitlements.
Assessment Details with weights:
End term presentation
Provided above with module descriptions