The Citizenship Lab


Citizenship Lab

The Citizenship Lab seeks to explore the dynamics that drive expansions of, and restrictions on, the performance of citizenship, along with novel conceptions of rights, responsibility, and political community. While citizenship is often understood in terms of fixed legal rights, embodied in laws and constitutions, the ways in which people imagine and perform citizenship are dynamic. Possibilities for enacting citizenship are always subject to social, economic, or other constraints. However, creative mutations in the meaning of citizenship are always possible, perhaps leading to expanded modes of agency. The Citizenship Lab seeks to explore the diverse ways in which constraints on, and possibilities for, citizenship are undergoing transformation. Three areas of transformation are of particular interest: spatial, temporal, and ecological.

Spatial: Citizenship is often conceived as a legal construct tied to membership within a territorially bounded state. However, possibilities for performing citizenship within state boundaries are shaped by global flows of capital, data, solidarity, ideology, propaganda, and more. In what ways are these global flows promoting new restrictions on, and formulations of, rights, community, (re)distribution, and responsibility? How might new bioregional and planetary notions of “home” reconfigure notions and performances of citizenship, expanding their spatial sweep?

Temporal: Decolonial, environmental, and other movements have, in different ways, opened discussions around the temporal aspects of shared responsibilities for (in)justice. How do particular ways of relating to the past and imagining the future enable or foreclose the performance of citizenship for particular communities? Practices have been created to imaginatively include future peoples in the deliberations of present citizens. What notions of political community inform these innovations and what are the possible constraints on their operation and expansion?

Ecological: In response to looming climate disaster, new political communities are emerging from within indigenous and liberal-Western cosmologies that extend rights and agency beyond the human. What possibilities and limitations exist in applying a rights framework to animals or ecological zones (e.g., rivers, mountains, wetlands, etc.)? What new notions of rights, political agency, and citizenship emerge out of the diverse ways that people are reimagining their political communities in terms that extend beyond the human?

Learn more:
Citizenship Lab: News, Events, and Funding Opportunities