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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

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 )
215 Boalt Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-7200
United States
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