The Rights of Noncitizens? Immigration, Boundaries, and Citizenship in Contemporary Democratic Politics

September 28-29, 2012

A workshop Co-sponsored by Politics & Society and by The International Center for Migration, Ethnicity, and Citizenship (ICMEC)

In most accounts of democracy, rights and citizenship are closely linked. Yet actual democracies contain many people who are not full citizens in legal and political terms, and who are present for brief or long periods of time. What rights can such people exercise in a meaningful way? What rights should they be able to employ?

We start with a broad and inclusive concept of people who are present in democratic polities without full citizenship—they vary in their legal standing (authorized or not) and in the likely duration of their stay (from brief visits for work and business to prospectively permanent residence). We use ‘noncitizens’ as an inclusive starting point, not as the final term or concept.

Sometimes noncitizens can claim and exercise few rights in principle or practice—in other contexts they gain significant opportunities and protections and can act effectively (within limits) in political and social life. How should we explain and assess the situations of diverse groups of noncitizens?

This workshop will examine these questions through the primary lens of immigration in democratic polities, with attention to the different ways that people who are not citizens can and cannot act. We will bring together approaches that are normative, empirical, and explanatory.


David Plotke, The New School (convener)
Linda Bosniak, Rutgers University
Pablo Ceriani Cernadas, National University of Lanús
Susan Bibler Coutin, University of California, Irvine
Els de Graauw, Baruch College, City University of New York
Alexandra Délano, The New School
Pascale Dufour, University of Montreal
Antje Ellermann, University of British Columbia
Marc Morjé Howard, Georgetown University
Loren B. Landau, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
Pierre Monforte, University of Leicester
Benjamin Nienass, Stern College/Yeshiva University
Isabel Perera, University of Geneva
M. Victoria Quiroz-Becerra, MDRC
Rogers Smith, University of Pennsylvania
Monica W. Varsanyi, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY Graduate Center
Julia Schulze Wessel, TU Dresden


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