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The Culture of Citizenship


Leti Volpp


University of California, Berkeley - School of Law


Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 571, July 2007
UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1015142

Abstract:     
The headscarf debate in France exemplifies what is widely perceived as the battle between a culture-free citizenship and a culturally-laden other. This battle, however, presumes the existence of a neutral state that must either tolerate or ban particular cultural differences. In this Article, I challenge that presumption by demonstrating how both cultural difference and citizenship are imagined and produced. The citizen is assumed to be modern and motivated by reason; the cultural other is assumed to be traditional and motivated by culture. Yet citizenship is both a cultural and an anti-cultural institution. Citizenship positions itself as oppositional to culture, even as it is constituted by cultural values. Recent scholars of multiculturalism have turned to concepts of citizenship as a solution to the dilemma raised by conflicts over culture. But these concepts of citizenship, namely deliberative democracy and civic participation, replicate the presumption of a culture-less "citizenship" - and thus form an ironic choice of solution to the problem of cultural difference.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 33

Keywords: citizenship, immigration, gender, race, culture

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Date posted: September 21, 2007  

Suggested Citation

Volpp, Leti, The Culture of Citizenship. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 571, July 2007; UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1015142. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1015142

Contact Information

Leti Volpp (Contact Author)
University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )
Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
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