Ideological governance of citizen and non-citizen others in Kuwait
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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This chapter uses the example of statelessness in Kuwait to demonstrate how the legal structures that produce statelessness in a given state may depend on that state’s national ideology. It argues that law alone is incapable of (re)producing the stateless subject. In fact, knowledge systems like education and media – and the national narratives they put forward – operate to sustain systems that produce the social inequalities which underpin conditions like exclusion from citizenship. In particular, this chapter uses an analysis of a Kuwaiti educational textbook to examine mundane constructions of statelessness and exclusion. It presents how the text and images used in the textbook presume the national subject as natural. In this way, the contents of the textbook both implicitly and explicitly mark any deviation from a particular form of national subjectivity as unnatural, even as threatening to the Kuwaiti nation. The chapter uses this analysis of the school textbook as a stepping-off point to show how forms of categorical differences between citizens and non-citizens are produced and governed. This includes attributing positive characteristics to the national subject (Kuwaiti) and negative characteristics to non-citizen Others (Bidoon, Migrant). The chapter argues that these differences justify the policies and practices that render Others as inadmissible outsiders and validate the production of Bidoon statelessness. The chapter calls for researchers to challenge the intellectual foundations of the nation-state and problematise the assumptions nations have with respect to identity and belonging.

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