Separation or Permeability?
International Journal, Vol. 61, No. 4, pp. 793-812, 2006
20 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2010
Date Written: 2006
The authors argue that states were historically less bordered and self-contained than public opinion and the scholarship oriented around the nation-state have assumed. First, the authors address the permeability of borders in the period of mass migration at the turn to the 20th century, taking as examples migrants to Canada from Europe, China, and elsewhere. Second, they discuss the period of the 1880s to 1940s, during which the emergence of the working classes in the Atlantic world and “pauperism” prompted the emergence of transatlantic social thought. By mid-twentieth century, social citizenship arose as a corollary to political citizenship. Third, they discern a new stage of political interaction from the founding of the United Nations to the turn of the 21st century, in which democracies have become highly sensitive to developments beyond their borders and have become linked into a comprehensive multilateral system of organizations and legal rules. While noting that Canada’s record in protecting the rights of non-citizens within its borders earns it deserved praise, the authors argue that Canada simultaneously expends great effort on policing and preventing initial border crossings by those claiming human rights protection. While Canada has a relatively strong culture of rights protection and a famously weak conception of national identity, it also has an underestimated system of border control. The authors finally describe three liminal figures whose experiences illustrate the paradoxical interactions between rights and borders in Canada: the citizen abroad, the foreigner within, and the would-be asylum seeker.
Keywords: permeability, immigration, multilateral system, national identity
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