The research area Citizenship and Migration seeks to develop a comprehensive understanding of the variations in migration regimes and citizenship debates in the Global South - which ultimately cannot be thought without their interconnections with the Global North. To this goal, we wish to integrate the perspectives of states, citizens, and non-citizens. All three play crucial roles in shaping and negotiating civic participation in a highly mobile world. Also, we seek to theorize the interplay of political-ideological considerations, pragmatic restrictions, and actors` individual and collective strategies.
We take as a starting point the assumption, that while citizenship and migration are closely interrelated, their connection is complex and often inconsistent. For example, for many people citizenship is a prerequisite for migration. At the same time, both internal and international migrants often have been excluded from full citizenship rights, be it in their place of origin, or in the region of residence. Moreover, notions of citizenship differ across space and time: They refer to regionally and historically specific understandings of the state, and shared imaginaries of community.
Governmental policies, practices of local bureaucracies, and the strategies used by marginalized groups of citizens across the Global South in order to achieve full enjoyment of their rights, have become important aspects of investigation. While several researchers have shown how discourses and practices moved and continue to move in both directions between the South and the North, as well as within the South itself, we still lack a comprehensive comparison of regimes. This project aims to analyse systematically both the common threads within and the variation between these processes.
In addition, many scholars have pointed to the relevance of migration movements across national borders, the increasing recognition of rights alongside the privileges of national members, and the emergence of trans-national (e.g. human rights) regimes that restrict national sovereignty. Nevertheless, national policies still play a crucial role in defining access to and exclusion from rights, namely of political representation and participation, continue to define the boundaries of belonging, and are a major factor in maintaining global inequalities. In contrast to the flows constitutive of globalization (and produced by it), the opposite tendency is equally noticeable, namely that national governments seek to immobilize flows of goods and people.
In order to develop a comprehensive analytical framework, our thematic group focuses on two dimensions of enquiry: On the one hand, we endorse regional and diachronic comparison so as to identify common patterns and processes, as well as crucial socio-cultural differences. In particular, we envisage a comparison of citizenship regimes of selected countries in different continents that pays attention to migrants’ rights and strategies. On the other hand, we will trace transregional transfers and connections, by taking into account the historical and contemporary mobility of people within and across continents. Here we may focus, for example, on networks of traders, or the circuits of low-skilled labour migrants. Another aspect of the transfer-dimension is the circulation of concepts and strategies. Here we may think, for example, of intergovernmental co-operations for the design of migration policy, or the global networking activities of social and rights movements.
By integrating different disciplinary perspectives and by drawing on the strengths of regional studies and qualitative methodology, this project will shed new light on contemporary negotiations of migration and citizenship in a highly mobile world. Our members are currently conducting research in China, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East.