How are nationality, citizenship, and immigration connected?


– So the question is? I think an important difference that we need to establish is between
nationality and citizenship. Citizenship is more
inclusive than nationality. Nationality has, in it,
embedded an idea of your country of birth, and has got an idea of blood ties or language, heritage, or culture that is much more closed. And if you think in terms of the capacity of a nation to include people who come from outside, you will see that people who have a strong idea of nationality – that
it may be more difficult for people to become
part of the community. So migration and citizenship are connected as a phenomenon. You cannot look at them separately, or you can look at them
separately up to a point, but if you want to understand for example, who is allowed or not to become a citizen, you need to understand, how do we define citizenship first. And then we can talk about what migrants have to go through in order to be incorporated or
integrated into society. “How can someone start
to belong to the nation?” is also the question we should ask. The state plays a major role because they define the criteria
for incorporation, they define the criteria
for someone to acquire the citizenship when they’re born or later on in their life. And thinking about for example, what has become quite common nowadays, in Europe in particular, the citizenship test. The test you have to
pass in order to become a citizen of a country of Europe. I have passed the citizenship
test myself recently, and it was particularly fascinating to read through it and one of the questions which I
found particularly interesting on this framing was about food and cooking and was basically saying
“As British people love to cook and to invite
people over for dinner…” As an Italian, the cooking
dimension is something very close to my heart and food, and so it was particularly striking because I know very well that people very much rely on
Deliveroo for their survival in England. There is also something about what are the criteria of
integration we need to ask. So we need to ask, “What are the criteria that I need to conform to in order to be accepted?” So there are decisions
that have been made, in terms of defining what criteria you need to fulfill in order to aspire to become part of the society. This in a sense takes us back to the point about what is the nation, who belongs to the nation. So the definition about who belongs to the nation implicitly
and sometimes explicitly is also defining who is not belonging, or who is not allowed to belong. And this is how migration and citizenship are very much part of
the same relationship. If you look at contemporary society, they’re extremely diverse, both in terms of cultural heritage, but also in terms of what position individuals have vis-à-vis the state. So what are your rights and entitlements in a specific country. It’s not only about being a citizen or not being a citizen. That is one, it’s important. Obviously being a citizen gives
you more security in terms of the state not being able to deport you, just to give you an example. But there is more, because in a sense, even undocumented migrants who are not citizens of the country, they’re not even legally in the country, they still have rights, if you think, for example, the right to education. In most European countries
and internationally, there is a recognition of the fact that you cannot deny the right to schooling to children in the
compulsory education age. So, what is the basis of their rights? It’s not about citizenship. It’s about something else and it comes from the
human rights framework, it comes from the UN Convention
on the Rights of the Child. But there is also another
source of rights in contemporary societies and cities. You can see that. And it’s the rights that
derive from presence, from being there. So, for example in some places, an undocumented migrant
who has been living for 10 or 20 years in a city,
he may be entitled to access to social housing, or getting access to the welfare state, or to healthcare, et cetera. So you can be a member of society, but not having all the
rights and entitlements that some groups have. When we talk about defining the boundaries of a community, obviously there is a hard power, which is the one through which
the rules are established, the regulations. The fact that you have to
register to be allowed to stay, even if you have been in
a country for 20 years, for example. At the same time, this is
doing something of the same… Rules and regulations are also
working on a different level, which is the fact of making
people feel not welcome. And this is something that is very evident when we talk about Brexit, but also for other communities
that I’ve been working with, in particular for example, Roma people, undocumented migrants, even minorities, people from ethnic minorities, particularly if they are
racialized ethnic minorities. So, what you see is that some
groups are more vulnerable to this change of the
ideologies of belonging or politics of belonging,
whatever you want to call it. They have less voice
in this transformation and they either adapt, or they may be invited to leave, or they may be forced to leave. In the definition of who
belongs to a community, there is always an issue
of power embedded into it. And power, as we know,
is not a fixed, or static aspect of society. So there are shifts and there are groups that
become more powerful than others and they tend to impose
new ideas about belonging. A very good example is just Brexit, if you think of all the
debate about the EU referendum in UK, where you see that an idea of Britain in Europe as being basically lost
as part of the referendum and nowadays there is the
idea of the global Britain. So, there is a change of projection on what does it mean to be British. What we are trying to work
on, in my research and with my colleagues, is to
think about the legacy of these 40 years of membership of
Britain to the European Union in terms of how we transform
people and their belonging, their family connection, and what happens when you have a major shift, a major transformation of
the politics of belonging, as in the case of Brexit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *