Global Migrations and Imagined Citizenship: Examples from Slavery and Chinese Exclusion and When Questioning Birthright Citizenship
35 Pages Posted: 13 Dec 2007 Last revised: 21 Aug 2009
This essay provides a brief introduction into an analysis of citizenship and migration by using a transnational and cultural studies lens. It argues that migration is a global phenomena and responding to this domestic law must imagine the contours of citizenship. This is done in a historical context examining the abolition of the trans-Atlantic slave trade in 1807, Dred Scott in 1857 and Wong Kim Ark in 1898, respectively 200, 150 and 111 years ago. This analysis is also applied to current migration between the U.S. and Mexico, examining Mexico's dual-nationality legal regime and public calls to revisit birthright citizenship in the U.S.
This essay makes two general arguments. First it argues that these examples of migration show how domestic law (re)determines citizenship standards after sustained exposure to the global movement of persons. It presents migration as a transnational and global process, versus something unilaterally felt or caused. Second, this essay contends that these legal determinations regarding citizenship reflect cultural processes of imagined communities, borrowing the concept from Benedict Anderson.
Keywords: citizenship, immigration, cultural studies, world system, birthright citizenship
JEL Classification: F22, J61, O15, R23
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation