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.
This chapter traces the imperial and colonial legacies underpinning current citizenship and citizenisation laws and policies in Britain. This long view of British citizenship reveals a lot about the imperial and racial impulses of Western European citizenships more broadly, while it takes seriously historical developments that are specific to Britain. The chapter argues that Britain is a global institution that has always been part of the international political and economic landscape where citizenship is continuously redefined. The relative late arrival of a specifically national British citizenship was more about citizenising Britain than it was about redressing a historical weakness; it was about equipping the British state with the technology of citizenship in the process of further hardening the borders of British nationality and nationhood.
The conclusion revisits the waiting room of citizenship and the spatial, temporal, affective processes and practices that produce and reproduce old and new inequalities not only at the national level, but on the international stage. It argues for the importance of contextual research on the social life of citizenisation and migratisation for a better understanding of the ways in which citizenship and ‘the migrant’ are naturalised as mutually exclusive. In turn, examining life in the waiting room also reveals the various ways in which this dualism unravels. Forensic examinations of the perpetuation of nativist, sedentarist politics of belonging and entitlement will not only make it more difficult to turn away from the inequalities they foster and reinforce, but that the combined tools of citizenisation and migration help unravel these injustices and find alternatives to citizenship that embrace migration and difference as constitutive creative forces of all social life.
Chapter 3 is concerned with the generative capacities of documents, that is, how individuals engage with, relate and respond to documents as they are produced, exchanged, negotiated, transformed and moved by and between individuals. Following the paper traces and trails as they circulate in the waiting room of citizenship takes us to the broader ‘relational politics of curation’ that position applicants and registrars in different relations to each other and to the state. The chapter reveals the role of documents in making and unmaking citizens, migrants and citizenship itself, which means that citizenisation impacts on the lives of migrants and citizens alike, though with significantly different effects. The chapter concludes with a summary of how the ‘documented citizen’ is fragmentary, contingent, ephemeral and caught within a set of interpretive gaps about the law and its effects, while it is at the same time emplaced, temporal, embodied and affective.
The chapter introduces the social historical conjuncture around, as well as theoretical underpinnings of, uncertain citizenship. It draws on the Windrush scandal to foreground how uncertain citizenship disproportionately affects racially minoritised people, and that the racialised uncertainty of citizenship is historically embedded rather than contingent on national institutional and political ‘cultures’ or international trends. Uncertain citizenship starts from the premise that international trends need to be understood in context in order to better capture the specific histories and social and political climates that shape and impact on definitions of, and inequalities within, citizenship regimes. The chapter also introduces how citizenisation and migration are intimately connected.
Scene 1 provides information about the institutional context and processes that are at the centre of this study while it also gives more details about the methods used and the general profile of participants.
Scene 2 presents a scene from a training session organised by UKVI case workers, for registrars tasked with checking applications for Settlement on the basis of Marriage (SET(M)). The scene emphasises how documents circulate, are interpreted and must be ‘curated’ to produce an appropriate ‘picture’ for an application to be successful.
Scene 3 takes us to a language school in the North West of England, and to conversations with several migrants. It highlights the inequalities embedded in the postcolonial Anglophone world – exemplified here in the author’s own interactions with these migrants – and sets up the complex ways in which regimes of seeing and regimes of hearing operate in current language requirements for citizenisation.
Scene 4 depicts a citizenship ceremony from the point of view of Aisha, a new citizen, and Harry, a registrar. It serves as a description of typical ceremonies in England, and raises a number of themes that are picked up in Chapter 5.
The chapter is concerned with the current common-sense politics around language, integration and citizenship that pervades most Western European countries, and where language is deemed a civil right that enables individual and social cohesion – jus linguarum (David Gramling’s term). Drawing on a raciolinguistic approach, the chapter argues that the disappearance of ‘national language’ as a constructed category allows for the disappearance of other categories, such as whiteness. Situating British language requirements in the colonial history of the rise of English as a ‘world language’, the chapter shows how a form of ‘provincialised English’ arises from the tensions between the inevitability of multilingualism in today’s global world, the status of English as a ‘world’ language, and the insistence of English as the ‘national’ language. The chapter then examines the effects of provincialising English and ongoing linguistic inequities as they are lived on the ground, and exposes how jus linguarum is normalised and naturalised through practices of verbal and audial hygiene. The chapter concludes with a discussion the effects of jus linguarum on the normalisation of white English monolingualism and on the ‘migratisation’ or ‘racialisation’ of those who speak otherwise.