The birth certificate as fetish object in the governance of citizenship and its presumed sex and gender norms
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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Statelessness and citizenship fall along a fluid and unstable continuum that is formed, deployed, and maintained by an assemblage of administrative technologies and human actors. This includes: technological artefacts (such as birth certificates and other state-issued identification documents), technological infrastructures (such as internationally shared passenger name records for air travellers), and statutory and treaty instruments (such as citizenship laws and international treaties). Irregularities arising in such an assemblage lead to a troubling of citizenship or even outright statelessness. This chapter recognises that statelessness can be understood as a failure of the technology of citizenship. As such, it examines some of the ways in which birth certificates privilege a particular type of citizenship. This is a citizenship predicated on cisheterosexual norms. This has significant effects on the governance of citizenship. First, people born within a particular jurisdiction who do not comply with cisheterosexual norms may be barred from accessing full recognition of their citizenship. Second, these norms add barriers to potential or eventual citizenship for those who want or need to change jurisdictions. This chapter advocates a turn away from the fetishisation of birth certificates as they currently stand. It suggests instead the need for a reassessment and change in approaches to such technologies of citizenship and identification at both state and global levels.


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