The becoming citizen
in Uncertain citizenship
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This chapter focuses on how certainties of citizenship are reproduced and naturalised in citizenisation, starting with two of citizenship’s key principles: the wilful autonomous subject and birthright. The chapter unravels how choice and obligation are entangled in ‘birthright’ citizenship that is founded on racialised heteropatriarchal reproductive familial relations that decidedly emplace ‘new citizens’ within the national territory and extracts them from their diasporic belongings, while it presumes a subject who not only chooses citizenship but also who has chosen migration. The chapter further unpicks the ‘value’ of citizenship by scrutinising how the good life, happiness and ‘luck’ function in the idealisation of British citizenship as the source of happiness. The chapter’s final section turns to ‘ordinary’ citizens who reveal how migrants become otherwise throughout the citizenisation process, and ends with Sala, a ‘new’ citizen who untangles the constitutive and necessary postcolonial presence within citizenship, Britishness and the British state. Ultimately, the chapter goes at the heart of the split between becoming British and identifying as other. But this split is not irreparable. When turning the lens of migration more squarely on citizenship, migrant-citizens are actively reconfiguring what it means to become (British) citizen.

Uncertain citizenship

Life in the waiting room

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