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State of Citizenship: Contexts and Cultures of Public Engagement and Citizen Action

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This paper argues that efforts to enhance citizen engagement need to be contextualised in respect of the states of citizenship in the contexts in which they are applied, and calls for more attention to be focused on understanding trajectories of citizenship experience and practice in particular kinds of states. It suggests that those working in international development should pay more attention to the implications of the dissonance between the normative dimensions of global narratives of participation and accountability and the lived experience of civic engagement and the empirical realities of ‘civil society’ in particular states. By exploring instantiations of citizen engagement in different settings, the paper reflects on what citizenship comes to imply in these contexts. In doing so, it draws attention to the diverse ways in which particular subject-positions and forms of identification are articulated in the pursuit of concrete social and political projects.

This talk is part of the Centre of Governance and Human Rights Events series.

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