Mediated Acts of Citizenship Workshop
This workshop invites interdisciplinary scholars from various fields to theorize the ways in which citizenship is imagined and enacted in and across media, cities, and nations from around the world. The focus is on public disputes over how social goods (services, security, governance, community aesthetics, and moral precepts) and identities (religious, ethnic, racial, gendered, class, national, cosmopolitan, local) are cultivated, encouraged, preserved, transformed, or abandoned within cities, nations and states. Mediating acts of citizenship concern the multiple ways in which actors participate and engage in disputes over the answerability toward public cultures that have been built over time against the background of specific philosophical, political and economic formations.
Media, cities, and nations are central objects of study in the social sciences and humanities, though they are generally studied separately within different disciplines and faculties. Adopting an interdisciplinary approach, we wonder whether and to what extent the study of citizenship can be spatially released from its nation- and/or state-centered tendency and political inclination towards the legal status of rights and obligation, and the formal language of order, justice and membership.
By drawing attention to media, we are interested in how citizenship can articulate itself simultaneously in the abstract public sphere and the concrete sites in cities around which specific claims or counter-claims are made about rights, responsibilities, identity, recognition and redistribution. We would also like to know whether and how the media act as interlocutor in encouraging interaction across diversity, giving opportunities free from formal, institutional restraints and permitting experimentation with identities and belonging.
By considering cities as the crucial locale of citizenship in this workshop, it further opens up a possibility to theorize how citizenship is instantiated in everyday practices of city life. These practices may not be considered political, but their social, cultural, sexual or ethical collisions often embody and embed the political sense of inclusion and exclusion. We also wonder whether and how the uniqueness of city cultures transforms the enactment of citizenship by generating new meanings in social justice and order.
Participants, abstracts and papers
Fred Evans, Philosophy, Duquesne University
Abstract: Citizenship and Multi-Voiced Societies
Dr. Evans is an internationally acclaimed scholar with a broad range of specializations, including: continental philosophy, philosophy of technology, social and political philosophy, philosophy of science and ethics. His current book manuscript, The Multi-Voiced Body : Society, Communication, and the Age of Diversity, follows a line of inquiry that adapts political theory of democracy, citizenship and multiculturalism from Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of dialogue. Given both of his generalist and specialist qualities, Dr. Evans is invited to help workshop participants articulate the concept of mediating acts of citizenship through political philosophy. We are eager to learn how Bakhtin’s linguistic notion of “hybridization” in media and everyday practices in cities implies a new conception of citizenship politics, and how such a citizenship embeds and embodies multiple voices of society and works out the paradox of cosmopolitan heterogeneity and communal identity.
John Keane, Centre for the Study of Democracy, University of Westminster
Abstract: European Citizenship: Historical Foundations, New Departures
Dr. Keane is world renowned for his contribution to studies in media and democracy, civil society, and European citizenship. Dr. Keane’s work addresses the first level of the argument for the workshop which critiques the limitation of the dominant discourse of liberal democracy, and opens up normative concerns by tracing the historical ambiguity of European citizenship. His paper discusses how civic practices in Europe have historically delineated boundaries between ‘us and others’, and made claims about social goods (security, governance, services, community and moral precepts) and identities (cultural, ethnic, religious, class, gendered, local, national and cosmopolitan). Dr. Keane’s views of European citizenship, as a negotiated formal entitlement, and how acts of citizenship are cultivated, encouraged, preserved, transformed or abandoned are of central interest to workshop participants.
Paul S. Moore, Cinema and Media Studies, University of Chicago
Paul S. Moore is PostDoctoral Fellow in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago where he is expanding to the MidWest USA his research on early movie-going in Toronto. His work on early mass culture demonstrates the urban and regional foundations of transnational modernity. This is related to citizenship studies because the movies were one of the first everyday practices to promote an inclusive, near universal form of civic participation, albeit restricted to entertainment. He was recently a student at York University with Engin Isin, and was researcher (like Yon Hsu) with the Culture of Cities Project, where Greg Nielsen and Kieran Bonner were among the principle investigators.
Brian Walker, Political Science, UCLA
Dr. Walker has developed a unique approach towards the specific topic of multicultural citizenship based on a general but solid foundation in the history of political theory and Anglo-American legal studies. He has been acclaimed for his critique of the liberal model of citizenship (especially Will Kymlicka’s) as he reconfigures the relations between majority and minority rights, highlights the significance of urban space and draws insights beyond the liberal tradition. Dr. Walker’s paper directly addresses the relations among cities, ethnicity and multicultural citizenship. This helps the workshop to single out how and why cities are the sources of cultivating a multiculturalism repertoire where cultural creativity and distinctive cultural pathways are encouraged. Overall, Dr. Walker’s participation helps the workshop to envision a more progressive and more articulate theory about citizenship as mediating acts, practices and lived experiences in cities.
Bettina Bergo, Philosophie, Université de Montréal
Dr. Bergo is an expert on and translator of the work of the celebrated French Philosopher Emmanuel Levinas. She has also made important contributions in feminist applications of his ethics and theory of justice. Dr. Bergo’s paper focuses on providing a concept of mediation to navigate between Levinas’s ethics and justice. Her theoretical contribution complements and adds to the work presented by the other political philosophers attending the workshop (Honnig, Dallymyr and Evans). Dr. Bergo’s participation also helps to deepen the understanding of the key concepts of mediation and acts of citizenship. In addition, her paper on Levinas theorizes extremes of the paradox of liberal democracy by considering how citizenship is necessarily instantiated against the most vulnerable members of society. Levinas, she argues, “never rules out that terrible acts of betrayal can also come to pass. It is the exception that interests him.” Evoking the work of Hannah Arendt, she looks to correct Levinas’s one-sided view of justice and articulate a concept of mediating acts of citizenship
Kieran Bonner, Sociology, St Jerome’s University, University of Waterloo
Dr. Bonner has expertise in urban research, social theory and the sociology of culture. He has developed a critical, and unique approach towards the analysis and conditions of cities through his ethnographic work. Dr. Bonner’s paper contributes to the workshop problematic for the following reasons: First, he conceptualizes citizenship in social practices of urban life and in the mediation between the universal demands for urban competitiveness in global cities discourses and the particular demands for local distinctiveness. Second, he theorizes Hannah Arendt’s theory of democracy into participatory acts in contemporary cities. Dr. Bonner suggests what urban citizenship might mean, as well as how we might borrow ideas from post-sructuralism to pave an alternative route to citizenship studies.
Darryl Burgwin, Sociology, York University
Burgwin is one of two outstanding PhD students and research fellows with the Citizenship Studies Media Lab at York University who will be presenting their work at the workshop. Mr. Burgwin’s focus on media complements two of the senior media scholars in the workshop, Marc Raboy and Licia Soares de Sousa. His paper contributes to the workshop in three ways. First, he draws attention to media and how citizenship can articulate itself simultaneously in the symbolic public sphere and the material sites where specific claims or counter-claims are made about rights, responsibilities, identity, recognition and redistribution. Second, he presents a theoretical definition of concepts concerned with mediating acts of citizenship “as an act, mediated citizenship can both reproduce current monopolies of knowledge, and, creatively present, organize and institute new representations that challenge those existing representations and their media”. Third, his paper promises to show how media act as interlocutors in encouraging interaction across diversity, giving opportunities free from formal, institutional restraints and permitting experimentation with identities and belonging.
Agnes Czajka, Sociology, York University
Czajka is one of two outstanding PhD students and research fellows with the Citizenship Studies Media Lab at York University, who will be presenting their work at the workshop. She holds an MA from Carleton’s Institute of Political Economy and has been enrolled in the PhD program in sociology at York since 2004. Ms. Czajka’s paper contributes to the workshop in three ways. Firstly, it responds to the need for an alternative approach towards citizenship studies. Secondly, it provides a focus on mediating acts of citizenship in cities citing the case of Palestinian refugees in the Bourj-el-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. Thirdly, her work addresses the status of non-citizens living between political communities, or at the threshold of a polity, in order to illuminate aspects of the ‘transient citizen’ paradox.” In each of these ways she helps us to pinpoint the paradox of liberal democracy that requires mediation between the universal ideal of human rights and the particular ideal of community.
Engin Isin, Canada Research Chair in Citizenship Studies, York University
Abstract: Theorizing Acts of Citizenship
Dr. Isin is nationally and internationally recognized for his contribution to citizenship studies, urban research, and intercultural dialogue. Throughout Dr. Isin’s career, he has developed two major concerns which directly give shape to our research problematic. First, Dr. Isin transforms the discourses on citizenship from the exclusive focus on content, form and extent of rights and obligation to a broadened vision on mediation, negotiation and contestation over inclusion/exclusion and possibilities/impossibilities in a polity. Therefore, emphasizing the act of citizenship becomes crucial because it singles out the mediating, negotiating and contesting processes in instantiating claims and constituents. Dr. Isin has also developed research on how citizenship is primarily enacted in cities. This focus on relations between citizenship and cities helps us demonstrate the extent to which citizenship studies can be spatially released from nation-states and conceptually freed from an abstract legal status.
Peter Nyers, Political Science, McMaster University
Dr. Nyers has emerged as an important scholar in Canada and abroad in the area of citizenship studies. His paper to be presented is central to our research problematic. He discusses how citizenship is mediated between status and enactment, between polis and cosmopolis, and between nation-states where formal parameters of citizenship are set and reinforced and cities where lived experiences of migrants and refugees single out the limits of such parameters. That is, in light of different urban sites of detainee and refugee migrants, Dr. Nyers’s paper concerns how citizenship is claimed and counter-claimed in the mediation of the language of rights which entails unbounded universality and that of community which implies particular identity.
Marc Raboy, Communication, McGill University
Dr. Raboy is one of Canada’s leading and perhaps most complete contemporary senior media scholars. He is Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, Media and Communications, Art History and Communication Studies, at McGill University and has a long list of sparkling publications in the areas of communication and media policy issues in the context of globalization, and media and social movements. He is one of three communications scholars we have invited to reflect on our problematic from the point of view of their particular expertise. Dr. Raboy’s paper addresses our research problematic by showing how rights claims or acts of citizenship for cultural communities have come to inform policy documents regarding public broadcasting. The paper provides an interesting example of how acts of citizenship are mediated through policy texts that seek to reproduce national cultures wherein a diversity of cultures demand to be represented in the public sphere.
Brian Singer, Sociology, Glendon College, York University
Abstract: Citizenship without the Polis
Dr. Singer is well known for his work on social theory and the history of ideas. He is a translator and commentator on contemporary French social and political thought (Castoriadis, Levis-Strauss, Baudrillard) and has written extensively on the French Revolution and Enlightenment periods. Dr. Singer contributes to both the workshop objectives. His paper distinguishes the founding moment of political citizenship in the United States by looking at how its discourse is mediated through a social imaginary he calls ‘citizenship without a polity.’ As he puts it: “Such citizenship suggests a sense of identity of a rather peculiar type, one that is potentially so abstracted from all concrete community practices, that it can be lived alone, and carried almost anywhere.” His work on the origins of American citizenship on the East Coast and on the West Coast as a frontier suggests a fascinating compliment to John Keane’s presentation on contemporary European citizenship and its multiple mediations. We look forward also to his exchange on cosmopolitanism with Drs. Dallymyr, Stasilulis, and Evans.
Daiva Stasiulis, Sociology and Anthropology, Carleton University
Abstract: Narrating Multiple Citizenship
Dr. Stasiulis has focused her academic career on citizenship studies with emphasis on ethnographic research and qualitative interviews, as well as a strong command of feminist, post-colonial and multicultural theories. Dr. Stasiulis’s participation in the proposed workshop is essential, as her research is at the heart of both of the workshop’s objectives of developing a concept of mediating acts of citizenship, and of providing analysis of the symbolic and material spaces in and through which ways of belonging are enacted. Her paper particularly illuminates the mediation between formal entitlements of right and responsibilities and lived experiences of identity and belonging in and through the acts of dual (or multiple) citizenship. In addition, her experience in bridging academic work and the policy implication of multiculturalism and immigration in Canada will help connect discussions between political theory and applied research.
William Walters, Political Science, Carleton University
Abstract: Ir/regular Governance
Dr. Walters has developed two unique and highly topical concerns in citizenship studies. First, he has examined the governing and functioning of European integration in relation to the questions of border control, migration and anti-illegal policy. Second, he has considered the challenges and problems of unemployment policies as the symptom of the decline of social rights in European Citizenship. His paper to be presented in the workshop combines both of the above concerns. Dr. Walter’s similar concern for “illegal” migration not only provides comparison with Dr. Peter Nyers’s work on “illegal” migration in Canadian cities, but also resonates Dr. John Keane’s historical investigation of European citizenship that constantly delineates “us” from “others” over social goods and social rights.
Melanie White, Sociology, Trent University
Abstract: Can an act of citizenship be creative?
Dr. White has distinguished herself as a SSHRC postdoctoral fellow at York University and as a visiting scholar in the Department of Political Science, Johns Hopkins University. Her research as well as her proposed paper fits well with our double objective. Her paper contributes most notably to the first level of our argument that seeks to demonstrate the limits of the liberal trajectory that dwells on formal language of justice and order. Her re-reading of Hume through Deleuze refocuses our concept of ‘acts of citizenship’ on the distinction between active and passive habits and how they come to bear on the constitutive relation between self and citizen. Her paper is a striking theoretical rejoinder to papers by Honnig, Bertina, and Evans in that it provides an additional assessment of the role of habits in cultivating the ‘good citizen’ who is capable of negotiating public disputes over social goods.
Fred Dallamyr, Government and International Studies, University of Notre Dame (Cancelled)
Dr. Dallmayr is a world-renowned expert in the disciplines of political philosophy and political science. He has authored works on the limits of pluralism, and the accommodation of multiple identities within liberal democracy and between seemingly incompatible political systems or civilizations. Dr. Dallmayr also develops his reputation in the area of citizenship studies, and makes a central contribution to each of the objectives of the proposed workshop. His paper begins with an association of citizenship with the city. He argues that the relation between the rules of law that seeks to protect against lawlessness in the city is a relatively modern construct; it is one that can be improved on in order to better accommodate hybrid identities emerging through a new form of transnational or global citizenship. According to Dr. Dallmayr, “what is at stake is not the option between a narrow ethnic citizenship and a bland cosmopolitanism, but rather the pedagogical learning process opening up existing citizen loyalties to transnational commitments and responsibilities”.
Bonnie Honig, Political Science, Northwestern University (Cancelled)
Abstract: The Time of Rights
Dr. Honig is a well known figure in contemporary political theory, democratic theory and feminist theory. As a senior research fellow of the American BAR foundation, Dr. Honig has also been an influential public intellectual. Dr. Honig makes an important contribution to the main objectives of the workshop. The paper to be given exercises her imaginative power by comparing, contrasting and singling out limits of different political conceptions of rights in sync with different conceptions of temporality. Furthermore, Dr. Honig will examine the workshop’s research problematic concerning the mediation between lived experiences and environment and formal entitlements of rights in light of the global slow-food movement that promotes the right to taste. Finally, we hope her interest in Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy will help stimulate a dialogue with Dr. Bergo and Dr. Bonner who discuss citizenship through drawing insights from Arendt.
Licia Soares de Souza, Communication, Bahia State University, Brasil (Cancelled)
Dr. Soares de Souza is internationally recognized for her work in the comparative semiology of tele-visual representations of citizenship in Brazil and Quebec. She is one of three communications scholars who will participate in the workshop, and will help develop the second objective regarding the analysis of symbolic and material spaces in and through which ways of belonging are enacted. The paper that Dr. de Souza proposes will address the symbolic representation of the immigrant experience and sense of belonging as depicted in two Brazilian television series. The paper promises an original analysis of acts of citizenship mediated through the categories of race, class and transnationalism. Through the fictional universe of television, Dr. de Souza develops the relations of a hybrid identity among immigrants as a privileged terrain for the study of the constitution of citizenship through intercultural communication.