Who is the Citizen's Other? Considering the Heft of Citizenship

Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 8, pp. 333-366, 2007

35 Pages Posted: 21 Dec 2007 Last revised: 27 Jan 2008

See all articles by Audrey Macklin

Audrey Macklin

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law


The objective of this Article is to integrate legal and social conceptions of citizenship as they materialize at the geographic, political, and social border crossings that accompany transnational mobility. Rather than pose the question 'who is the citizen?', I ask 'who is the citizen's Other?', partly as a means of surfacing what we mean by citizenship by thinking about who we designate as its alterity. Against the current of most contemporary scholarship, I commend resurrecting the concept of statelessness as an antipodal reference point for citizenship. My intuition is that a version of statelessness still dwells in the substratum of much citizenship discourse, and that rendering a plausible account of it under contemporary conditions may prove helpful in linking conversations about legal and social citizenship. I supplement the conventional understanding of the stateless person (apatride) as one who lacks any citizenship in a state by also designating as stateless one who possesses citizenship but lacks a state. My analysis draws on Hannah Arendt's famous exegesis on the relationship between the apatride, the refugee, and the condition of rightlessness, as well as contemporary refugee jurisprudence. I demonstrate how subject positions commonly identified as the citizen's Other, including the refugee, the alien and the second-class citizen, are better understood as nested within a larger matrix where the apatride represents the ultimate negation of citizenship. I then introduce the notion of the heft of citizenship as a method of assessing how legal citizenship and social citizenship interact to position an array of subjects between these stylized poles of citizenship and statelessness.

Keywords: citizenship, statelessness, Arendt, refugees, failed states, multiple citizenship

Suggested Citation

Macklin, Audrey, Who is the Citizen's Other? Considering the Heft of Citizenship. Theoretical Inquiries in Law, Vol. 8, pp. 333-366, 2007, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1020747

Audrey Macklin (Contact Author)

University of Toronto - Faculty of Law ( email )

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