Conceptualizing Indigenous Citizenship: equal, differentiated, or shared citizenship?

by Vitikainen, Annamari, Associate Professor PDJ/UiT

 This paper considers some of the recent conceptualizations of indigenous citizenship as equal, differentiated, and shared citizenship. It draws from the now common understanding of indigenous citizenship as “citizenship as shared fate”, and aims to show how this understanding of shared citizenship may inform other elements of citizenship – namely, those connected to equal legal rights and to citizen participation.

The concept of “citizenship as shared fate” aims to capture the idea of indigenous people and the state’s majority population (thenceforth: national majority) as living in complex, historically formed, interdependent relations that tie their fates together. As opposed to the shared identity theories of citizenship, the understanding of citizenship in terms of shared fate sees the indigenous people and the national majority as sharing a common bond, while keeping their own distinctive identities. While the citizenship as shared fate has been developed to counter the more rigid and homogenizing understandings of citizenship as shared identity, its normative implications extend beyond the psychological (identity-based) realm of citizenship. From the point of view of political power, for example, citizenship as shared fate has provided grounds for different types of shared-rule institutions, as the interdependency of the two groups is seen to create a need also for power sharing institutions.

Apart from its normative effects on political institutions, the understanding of citizenship in terms of shared fate may also have effects on the other dimensions of citizenship, including legal and participatory elements of citizenship. These two elements of citizenship have often been understood differently: While the formal legal citizenship rights are often viewed as distinctively equal (that is, uniform), the quest for equal (now, effectively equal) public participation is often viewed as also requiring differentiated treatment or differentiated group rights. In this paper, I aim to map out some of the ways in which the understanding of indigenous citizenship in terms of shared fate may affect these common understandings of legal and participatory aspects of citizenship, by diversifying the common object to which the equal legal rights and the effective means of participation are supposed to apply.


Active citizenship in the anti-politics era

by Vagnarelli, Gianluca, Lecturer at the Department of Political Sciences,University of Macerata (Italy)

As Andreas Schedler wrote, we live in antipolitical times [Schedler, 1997]. Anti-politics is not new in the history of Western thought, but today it seems to become hegemonic. Since the beginning of the nineties of the twentieth century, anti-politics has become the true ideological heart of the post-ideological era. Anti-politics is a difficult concept to define, for two reasons. First, because it is used to describe different things and this fact caused growing uncertainty around its semantic content. Second, because the anti-politics is a concept that is defined by derivation from “politics”. The meaning of anti-politics changes when the meaning of politics changes: anti-politics is the shadow of politics [Truffelli, 2008]. In western democracies the theoretical and political discourse on citizenship reflects the anti-political climate of our times. On the one hand, that means crisis of confidence in political institutions and intermediary bodies, increasing levels of electoral abstention and a general political passivity [Flinders, 2014]. On the other side, that means citizens who claim direct participation in public life, in order to overcome barriers against their participation in political decision-making, starting with political parties [Allegretti, 2010]. From this point of view, the experience of the Italian Five Star Movement, become the second largest party in the general election of 2012, may be an interesting case study. The main axes of the (anti) political discourse of the Five Star Movement concern in fact the refusal of any form of proxy (rejection of the free representational mandate and the idea of political representation, rejection of the traditional political party with its vertical form of organization, rejection of the culture of leadership) [Grillo, 2013] and, in parallel, the investment in the online civic engagement platforms as a new form of horizontal political community. The discussions around limits and contradictions of this process reflect some of the classical topics about the history of political citizenship.

Active Citizenship for the Common Good(s) in Italy

by Stokke Øyvind and Vito de Lucia, IFF and JCLOS, UiT

 In 2001 Italy passed a Constitutional amendment which introduced the principle of “horizontal subsidiarity”. This provision opened for the direct engagement of citizens in the management or co-management of public goods through forms of “active citizenship”. In the context of European economic austerity, the idea of active citizenship (which has been around at least from the 1970’s) has been concretized in multiple ways, and especially in relation to the (re-)emerging category of common goods, through forms of “shared administration”. This presentation will offer an account of these recent practices, its theoretical underpinning, some of its promises and some of its potential limitations.


Neighbouring as a Liminal Act of Citizenship

by Simpson, Sheryl-Ann, Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture + Environmental Design; Department of Human Development, University of California, Davis 

Home is an important site of both incorporation and politicization, and isolation and separation. This study examines action at home as a starting point for a comparative inquiry into the ways in which new immigrant residents in Canada and Denmark are defining citizenship for themselves, and in relation to the expectations and actions of longer-term residents and institutions.

The study draws on data from approximately 20 months of fieldwork between 2010 and 2013 in two cities Winnipeg Manitoba in Canada and Copenhagen Region Hovedstaden in Denmark. This research included participant observation, narrative interviews, and mapping exercises with new immigrant workers and staff at neighbourhood organizations serving these communities. This data is used to articulate the idea of neighbouring as a type of liminal act of citizenship. This is a focus on the acts that happen in the spaces between the private and the public: front lawns and gardens, stoops, streets and sidewalks, neighbourhood parks, building-wide courtyards, neighbourhood centres, and hallways. Understanding actions in these spaces provides an opportunity to 1) examine connections between scales, the ways in which these spaces are shaped and conditioned through actors, actions and institutions, at municipal, national and international scales; 2) build a stronger understanding of migrant interpretations of these spaces, and the ways in which they might connected them to citizenship. Here, paying particular attention to encounters between difference in terms of gender and sexuality, alongside race, ethnicity and nationality; and 3) the ways in which these neighbouring acts might move forward our understandings of everyday and vernacular citizenship. A key finding of the study is the importance of willing interlocutors within non-migrant communities. In both cases migrant residents identified both the importance of, and the difficulty of entering into neighbouring relationships with non-migrant, non-racialized people as a major challenge to incorporation.

Active Citizenship in the New South Africa: Between Liberal and Ubuntu Conceptions of the Good Citizen

by Seale, Wade, PhD Candidate in Philosophy, University of Malaga

At the dusk of apartheid around the early 1990s, South Africans were inspired by the prospect of freedom in the New South Africa. This inspiration was fuelled by the fact that for the last few centuries the vast majority of citizens had suffered racial oppression at the hands of the White minority, and now the prospect of democracy and individual rights for all would pave the way to the promised land. After two decades, South Africans find themselves in the teething process any young democracy endures, amongst others, because of the tension often arising out of traditional value systems such as Ubuntu on the one hand and Western, typically-liberal value systems on the other. This is particularly relevant in discussions about the role of the citizen.

What is the role of the citizen in the New South Africa? What informs ideas about the role of citizens and active citizenship? How do traditional conceptions of the citizen compare with Western, liberal conceptions? How does the New South African negotiate these? What were some of the ideas held by South Africans of what constituted the good citizen in the early 1990s and how have some of these ideas fared over the past two decades in real terms? Have citizens embraced acceptable standards of civic participation or are they content with outsourcing their democratic responsibilities to political parties?

This paper seeks to explore different conceptions of the citizen in the New South Africa, paying close attention to tensions which arise out of Western, liberal conceptions on the one hand and more traditional conceptions of the concept as informed by Ubuntu, on the other.


Defining active citizenship in Mexico: three study cases

by Gonzáles-Rojas, María-Fernanda, Politics of Culture in Latin America (POCLAT), Interdisciplinary Network for Latin American Research, UiT – The Arctic University of Norway

When we try to define active citizenship, can we embrace as many concepts as we find, such as: volunteering, donating, or recycling? How can we define it in places where institutions are weak and corruption is almost systematic? Today, the social conditions in Mexico have led that Literature, religion and individual tutoring have a strong educational role in active citizenship in Mexico, especially in the last five years. But how effective has been in communities with extreme poverty such as in the city of Monterrey, Nuevo Leon Mexico? The Regia Cartonera it’s a cultural project founded by individuals interested in improving the reading skills, and it is part of a larger initiative about reading in the Latin America region; the Raza Nueva in Christ it’s a religious organization focused in young people in marginalized and violent communities, this religious organization was founded by local priests and individuals. Finally, a special program for tutoring young students 3 hours per month from the Philanthropic Foundation – CAINTRA (Chamber of Industry in the State of Nuevo Leon) A high number of these students have limited resources and want to have a high school degree but also some of them wish to go to university. In these three organizations we find individuals committing themselves to a specific purpose (s). What are the reasons for such commitment? Lack of interest for reading, social degradation, extreme violence and poverty, could be the answer for such local commitment. But what are the common factors? From these cases can we built a definition for Active Citizenship in the northern part of Mexico? Such discussion will be framed under Doris Sommer and Paulo Freire’s academic work.

Key words: cultural citizenship, cultural agents.

Inappropriate schoolboys or active citizens? On educating democratic citizens in Danish primary school.

by Rasmussen, Lene Kofoed and Sigga Engsbro, University College Zealand, DK  

This paper presents one part of the analysis of a research project on the prevention of political radicalization in Danish primary school. The project is based on the assumption that a strong political culture in schools as well as the nurturing of political identities and active citizenship among the students can be a means to prevent political radicalization of these students later in life.

We will in this paper focus on boys as they are the main concern in the preventive measures taken against political radicalization. Thus, we explore the repertoire of behavior and opinions of the boys of 7th grade in the schools where we conducted fieldwork; which of their behavior and opinions are considered appropriate and which not? As the education researcher Gert Biesta has pointed out, schools that engage in the promotion of “good citizenship” often narrow it to a particular civic identity that mirrors the existing political order. If the democratic learning is about conforming to a narrow civic identity, some individuals will not be included. How do the 7th graders adjust to the wished-for identity and what happen when they don’t? Are they at risk of engaging in counter identities that are potentially destructive?

On the basis of this exploration of the intended as well as unintended political lessons learned by the 7th graders we will discuss whether schools by appropriating a less definite understanding of democracy and citizenship, can develop a more inclusive political culture? We will tentatively apply the notion of democracy put forward by the political theorist Chantal Mouffe. The question is whether her conflictual democracy based on agonistic struggle are better suited to include the “inappropriate boys” and ultimately render possible their active citizenship instead of provoking anti-democratic counter-reactions.


Are compromises more inclusive of non-liberals?

by Olsen, Tore Vincents, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Dept. of Political Science, Aarhus University, Denmark

Consensus theories of political legitimacy have been criticized by proponents of compromise for being too demanding in terms of what they require of citizens entering into processes of public reasoning. Supposedly, consensus processes require that citizens relate to their beliefs, value and identity commitments in a particularly reflexive manner and that they withhold certain parts of their convictions and express themselves in the form of ‘rational’ argumentative speech. However, these requirements allegedly privilege liberal citizens and exclude or alienate non-liberal citizens, e.g. religious citizens, from the political process. Proponents of compromise argue that compromise is less demanding in this regard and therefore more inclusive of non-liberals. The paper compares the requirements of consensus and compromise and argues that compromise in general is not less demanding than consensus and that compromise therefore is unlikely to be more inclusive of non-liberal citizens than consensus. The paper does not take sides in the debate between consensus and compromise theories. Nor does it enter into the discussion of whether there are intrinsic or only instrumental reasons for seeking compromise. However, the analysis and argument of the article have implications for these discussions. For if the argument for compromise rests its inclusiveness towards non-liberals and it can be demonstrated that it is not more inclusive, this argument is seriously weakened.

Emotion, Disagreement, and Conflict: Ambiguities in Jürgen Habermas’ Democratic Thought

by Lysaker, Odyn, Professor at Aarhus University

Chantal Mouffe criticizes Jürgen Habermas for not reflecting upon the role of emotion, disagreement, and conflict regards to active citizenship. In this paper, therefore, I investigate the Mouffe/Habermas controversy, and I do so by adopting a middle position. On the one hand, I take the Mouffian critique to correctly observe that individuals’ rational argumentation regards to universal moral claims is at center in Habermas’ approach. On the other, I argue, contrary to Mouffe, that her critique is based upon misreading and straw man fallacy. As a result, she ignores the many ways in which the Habermasian picture covers exactly the aspects that Mouffe holds that it lacks, namely collective action motivated by emotions as well as defining disagreement, or agonism, as a crucial aspect of the political. Thus, Habermas’ philosophical project, initiated more than 60 years ago, is reduced to something else and therefore less relevant regarding active citizenship than what is actually the case. In the paper, then, I reconstruct his democratic thought based on the assumption that it involves what I term as political ambiguities. By this notion, what I have in mind is how emotion, disagreement, and conflict are at play in within the Habermasian framing of democracy. To do so, I shall structure the paper around Mouffe’s main points concerning individualism, rationalism, universalism, and consensus. Here, I adopt an alternative route throughout Habermas’ oeuvre by holding that the above mentioned political ambiguities are evident throughout his whole authorship, and is grounded in Habermas’ term lifeworld. By doing so, the paper’s aim is to present a more nuanced picture regarding where Habermas and Mouffe actually touch shoulders rather than standing back to back when in their approaches to active citizenship within current complex democracies.

The support group for Faiza (Pseudonym) as an example of active citizenship: practice, ideals, and their relation to public discourses

by Loppacher, Anna, Department of Archaeology and Social Anthropology, UiT

How does a support group for an asylum seeking family position its activism in the political, ideological and discursive landscape of the Norwegian state and society? I investigated this question through anthropological fieldwork with a support group for asylum seekers in Norway. According to Gullestad (2002: 30-31) there has been a discursive shift in the public debate about immigration, from conceptualizing immigrants as a ‘resource’ and praising the ‘colourful community’ during the 1970s and -80s, towards seeing ‘them’ as a ‘burden’ from the 1990s and onwards. This shift made it both more acceptable and to some degree even expected to be critical about immigration and immigrants in public discourse (ibid.: 17). My informants were deeply concerned about this shift and expressed it to be their moral duty as citizens to do something about it, by juridical, political and activist means. I will discuss this combination of means as a reflection of the dominant paradigm the Norwegian state seems to follow in relation to social movements (Kjellman, 2007). My informants’ thoughts about the ideological background for their actions can be related to Bourdieus (2000 [1972]) theory of practice via Crossleys (2002: 189-90) concept of “resistance habitus”. These underlying values showed themselves to be one of the motivating forces for my informants’ actions, which is consonant with Hessels (2011) reflections. Thus, in the context of the upcoming conference, my research may contribute to the understanding of what constitutes active citizenship in a Norwegian context, how governmental policies and public discourse condition activism, and how activists in return try to shape public discourse.



Bourdieu, P., 2000 [1972]. Esquisse d´une théorie de la pratique. I: P. Bourdieu, red. 2000 [1972]. Esquisse d´une théorie de la pratique. Précédé de Trois études d´éthnologie kabyle. Paris: Editions du Seuil, s. 217429.

Crossley, N. 2002. Making Sense of Social Movements. Buckingham og Philadelphia: Open University Press.

Gullestad, M., 2002. Det norske sett med nye øyne. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Hessel, S., 2011. Indignez-vous! Montpellier: Indigène éditions.

Kjellman, K.E., 2007. Mobilization and protest in a consensus democracy: social movements, the state, and political opportunities in Norway. PhD. Universitetet i Oslo.