Citizenship in Movement II: Autochthony, Plural Legalism, and Post Colonial Belonging

Co-directors: Benoit Challand, Associate Professor Sociology, New School for Social Research

Emmanuel Guerisoli, PhD Candidate Sociology, New School for Social Research


The group will continue analyzing how the concept of citizenship takes on a multiplicity of forms depending on the assemblages of socio-political institutions, economic practices, and legal devices that govern visibility, membership, and inclusion within different types of communities and polities. During 2016-1017, the focus will be on exploring how post-colonial societies developed their own frameworks of citizenship. The latter constituted an amalgamation of previous colonial laws, multicultural understandings of membership, and autochthonous practices of belonging. Additionally, the group will discuss how colonial and post-colonial architectures of race, gender, sexuality, culture, and religion that migrated into the metropoles informed and molded legal arrangements of inclusion and exclusion in core countries.

Additionally, the group will study how recent and historical notions of autochthony, understood as primordial forms and customs of belonging, have affected national and multicultural conceptions of citizenship in both the post-colonial world and the global north. The upsurge of autochthony appears to present a challenge not only to present-day multicultural societies but also to postcolonial thinking itself. Nowadays it seems to be ‘bon-ton’ to make autochthony claims and proclaim the failure of the multicultural society. This observation runs counter to the fact that postcolonial theory, at least according to its proponents, has effectively scrutinized debates on identity and difference and explored new and existing imaginations of multicultural ‘conviviality’. Thus, the autochthony debate raises questions about the role and nature of postcolonial theory in society.

Lastly, the group will study particular cases through different methodologies, such as ethnography, interviewing, historical comparative, and discourse and legal analysis, in order to most appropriately link theory to empirical research. A component of this group will be the debate and experimentation regarding method and data selection pivotal for fieldwork and research design.