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The Culture of Citizenship

Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 8, No. 2, p. 571, July 2007

UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1015142

33 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2007  

Leti Volpp

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

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.

Keywords: citizenship, immigration, gender, race, culture

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: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1015142

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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