Equality and Closure: The Paradox of Local Citizenship

13 Pages Posted: 11 May 2022

See all articles by Kenneth Stahl

Kenneth Stahl

Chapman University - The Dale Fowler School of Law

Date Written: May 9, 2022


This paper is part of a symposium on my book, "Local Citizenship in a Global Age" (Cambridge University Press 2020). The essay is a response to essays about the book by Prof. Eric Claeys and Prof. Sarah Schindler, and emphasizes the spatial dimension of citizenship as epitomized by the American suburb. The suburb has always been defined by a paradox. It is on one hand a symbol of equality and the American dream, but on the other hand, class and racial segregation are indispensable components of the suburb's appeal. Likewise, citizenship in the United States has been defined by a similar tension between equality and closure. Citizens are practically defined against those who are non-citizens, but in the American political tradition we have recoiled against the idea that some people should be treated less favorably than others because they are noncitizens. This essay explores that paradox in both contexts and concludes that the search for "closure" is futile because we can never wall off uncertainty and change. Far better to expand our conception of community to embrace change and aspire towards a more equal society.

This paper was selected for reprinting in Immigration and Nationality Law Review (INLR) as one of the premier works of immigration-focused legal scholarship from 2021-2022.

Keywords: Citizenship, local government, zoning, suburbs, urban space, gentrification, immigration

Suggested Citation

Stahl, Kenneth, Equality and Closure: The Paradox of Local Citizenship (May 9, 2022). Texas A&M University Journal of Property Law, Vol. 8, No. 29, 2021, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4104698

Kenneth Stahl (Contact Author)

Chapman University - The Dale Fowler School of Law ( email )

One University Drive
Orange, CA 92866-1099
United States

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