Uncertain citizenship

Life in the waiting room

By Anne-Marie Fortier

Uncertain citizenship
Hardcover +
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526139085
  • Publish Date: Apr 2021
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Paperback +
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526163707
  • Publish Date: Apr 2022
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    eBook -
  • Price: £20.00
  • ISBN: 9781526139108
  • Publish Date: Apr 2021
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
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    Book Information

    • Format: eBook
    • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3910-8
    • Published Date: April 2021
    • Series: Manchester University Press


    Uncertainty is central to the governance of citizenship, but in ways that erase, even deny, this uncertainty. This book investigates uncertain citizenship from the unique vantage point of 'citizenisation': twenty-first-century integration and naturalisation measures that make and unmake citizens and migrants, while indefinitely holding many applicants for citizenship in what Fortier calls the 'waiting room of citizenship'. Fortier's distinctive theory of citizenisation foregrounds how the full achievement of citizenship is a promise that is always deferred: if migrants and citizens are continuously citizenised, so too are they migratised. Citizenisation and migratisation are intimately linked within the structures of racial governmentality that enables the citizenship of racially minoritised citizens to be questioned and that casts them as perpetual migrants.

    Drawing on multi-sited fieldwork with migrants applying for citizenship or settlement and with intermediaries of the state tasked with implementing citizenisation measures and policies, Fortier brings life to the waiting room of citizenship, giving rich empirical backing to her original theoretical claims. Scrutinising life in the waiting room enables Fortier to analyse how citizenship takes place, takes time and takes hold in ways that conform, exceed, and confound frames of reference laid out in both citizenisation policies and taken-for-granted understandings of 'the citizen' and 'the migrant'. Uncertain Citizenship's nuanced account of the social and institutional function of citizenisation and migratisation offers its readers a grasp of the array of racial inequalities that citizenisation produces and reproduces, while providing theoretical and empirical tools to address these inequalities.


    'Uncertain Citizenship is innovative, nuanced and both theoretically inspiring and empirically engaging. It is certain to become a cornerstone for future scholarship and debates around racism, migration and citizenship.'
    Ethnic and Radical Studies

    'In this brilliant book, Fortier examines the uncertainties in which citizenship is enmeshed and their effects on states, would-be citizens and those charged with managing the process of citizenship. These uncertainties condense long histories and shifting political, cultural and emotional pressures, making citizenship carry a formidable burden of desire and anxiety.'
    John Clark, Emeritus Professor, The Open University

    'By forensically examining scenes of uncertainty where non-citizens await becoming citizens, Fortier brilliantly illustrates how governments engage both citizens and non-citizens through insufferable games of conferral, deferral and repeal.'
    Engin Isin, Professor of International Politics, Queen Mary University of London

    'This vital contribution dismantles taken-for-granted understandings about contemporary citizenship to lay bare the inherent uncertainties, insecurities and inequalities at its heart. You'll never look at citizenship the same way again.'
    Michaela Benson, Reader in Sociology, Goldsmiths University of London

    'Anne-Marie Fortier writes with such sensitivity and perception on the impact of the UK government's regimes of citizenship and naturalization. This book illuminates the precarities and uncertainties of racialized citizenship and raises important questions on the injustices involved in process of determining who is deemed worthy of citizenship.'
    Bridget Byrne, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester

    'Taking British citizenship as her focal point, Fortier combines field work with an exhaustive reading of the secondary literature to contend that citizenship is rendered vulnerable by political and socioeconomic developments and that this uncertainty is central to governmental practices of citizenship.'
    CHOICE (March 2022)


    Introduction - Uncertain citizenship
    Scene 1 - Researching citizenisation
    1 The world of citizenisation: life in the waiting room
    2 Citizenising Britain
    Scene 2 - Documents, stories, pictures
    3 The documented citizen
    Scene 3 - Conversing with Anglophones
    4 The speaking citizen
    Scene 4 - Becoming citizen
    5 The becoming citizen
    Conclusion - Lessons from the waiting room: citizenisation and migratisation


    Anne-Marie Fortier is Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University

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