Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship

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Tendayi Bloom
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Lindsey N. Kingston
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When a person is not recognised as a citizen anywhere, they are typically referred to as ‘stateless’. This can give rise to challenges both for individuals and for the institutions that try to govern them. Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship breaks from tradition by relocating the ‘problem’ to be addressed from one of statelessness to one of citizenship. It problematises the governance of citizenship – and the use of citizenship as a governance tool. It traces the ‘problem of citizenship’ from global and regional governance mechanisms to national and even individual levels. Part I examines how statelessness is produced and maintained, for example through global development efforts and refugee protection instruments. Part II traces the lived reality of statelessness, starting at conception and the issuance of birth certificates, then exploring the experiences of youth, workers, and older people. Part III demands a rethinking of the governance of citizenship. It interrogates existing efforts to address challenges associated with statelessness and suggests alternatives. Contributions span global regions and contributors include activists, affected persons, artists, lawyers, leading academics from a range of disciplines, and national and international policy experts. Written text, visual art, and poetry are also used to examine complex concepts central to this discussion. Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship rejects the idea that statelessness and stateless persons are a problem. It argues that the reality of statelessness helps to uncover a more fundamental challenge: the problem of citizenship.

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