When leaders and citizens in the United States articulate their core political beliefs, they often do so in terms of parenthood and family. But while the motives might be admirable, the results of such thinking are often corrosive to our democratic goals. In The Parent as Citizen, Brian Duff reveals how efforts to make the experience of parenthood inform citizenship contribute to the most persistent problems in modern democracy and democratic theory.
Duff explains how influential theories of democratic citizenship rely on the metaphor of parenthood to help individuals rise to the challenges of politics, and demonstrates that this reliance has unintended consequences. When parenthood is imagined to instill confidence in political virtue, it uncovers insecurity. When parenthood is believed to inculcate openness to change, it produces fundamentalism. Duff develops this argument through original readings of four theorists of citizenship: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Friedrich Nietzsche, Richard Rorty, and Cornel West-readings that engage the ways in which these theorists incorporated their personal history into their political thought. In showing how problems that plagued canonical theorists of citizenship still trouble contemporary thinkers and citizens alike, Duff's insights are deeply relevant to present-day politics.
Despite being told that we now live in a cosmopolitan world, more and more people have begun to assert their identities in ways that are deeply rooted in the local. These claims of autochthony—meaning “born from the soil”—seek to establish an irrefutable, primordial right to belong and are often employed in politically charged attempts to exclude outsiders. In The Perils of Belonging, Peter Geschiere traces the concept of autochthony back to the classical period and incisively explores the idea in two very different contexts: Cameroon and the Netherlands.
In both countries, the momentous economic and political changes following the end of the cold war fostered anxiety over migration. For Cameroonians, the question of who belongs where rises to the fore in political struggles between different tribes, while the Dutch invoke autochthony in fierce debates over the integration of immigrants. This fascinating comparative perspective allows Geschiere to examine the emotional appeal of autochthony—as well as its dubious historical basis—and to shed light on a range of important issues, such as multiculturalism, national citizenship, and migration.
At the heart of the model minority myth—often associated with Asian Americans—is the concept of civility. In this groundbreaking book, Picturing Model Citizens, Thy Phu exposes the complex links between civility and citizenship, and argues that civility plays a crucial role in constructing Asian American citizenship.
Featuring works by Arnold Genthe, Carl Iwasaki, Toyo Miyatake, Nick Ut, and others, Picturing Model Citizens traces the trope of civility from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Through an examination of photographs of Chinese immigrants, Japanese internment camps, the Hiroshima Maidens project, napalm victims, and the SARS epidemic, Phu explores civility's unexpected appearance in images that draw on discourses of intimacy, cultivation, apology, and hygiene. She reveals how Asian American visual culture illustrates not only cultural ideas of civility, but also contests the contradictions of state-defined citizenship.
Since the cultural conflicts over the Vietnam War and civil rights protests, poets and poetry have consistently raised questions surrounding public address, social relations, friction between global policies and democratic institutions, and the interpretation of political events and ideas. In Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960, Dale Smith makes meaningful links among rhetoric, literature, and cultural studies, illustrating how poetry and discussions of it shaped public consciousness from the socially volatile era of the 1960s to the War on Terror of today.
The book begins by inspecting the correspondence and poetry of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov, which embodies competing perspectives on the role of writers in the Vietnam War and in the peace movement. The work addresses the rational-critical mode of public discourse initiated by Jürgen Habermas and the relevance of rhetorical studies to literary practice. Smith also analyses letters and poetry by Charles Olson that appeared in a New England newspaper in the 1960sand drew attention to city management conflicts, land-use issues, and architectural preservation. Public identity and U.S. social practice are explored in the 1970s and ‘80s poetry of Lorenzo Thomas and Edward Dorn, whose poems articulate tensions between private and public life. The book concludes by examining more recent attempts by poets to influence public reflection on crucial events that led to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By using digital media, public performance, and civic encounters mediated by texts, these poetic initiatives play a critical role in the formation of cultural identity today.
Precarity and Belonging examines how the movement of people and their incorporation, marginalization, and exclusion, under epochal conditions of labor and social precarity affecting both citizens and noncitizens, have challenged older notions of citizenship and alienage. This collection brings mobility, precarity, and citizenship together in order to explore the points of contact and friction, and, thus, the spaces for a possible politics of commonality between citizens and noncitizens.The editors ask: What does modern citizenship mean in a world of citizens, denizens, and noncitizens, such as undocumented migrants, guest workers, permanent residents, refugees, detainees, and stateless people? How is the concept of citizenship, based on assumptions of deservingness, legality, and productivity, challenged when people of various and competing statuses and differential citizenship practices interact with each other, revealing their co-constitutive connections? How is citizenship valued or revalued when labor and social precarity impact those who seemingly have formal rights and those who seemingly or effectively do not? This book interrogates such binaries as citizen/noncitizen, insider/outsider, entitled/unentitled, “legal”/“illegal,” and deserving/undeserving in order to explore the fluidity--that is, the dynamism and malleability--of the spectra of belonging.
Recent global security threats, economic instability, and political uncertainty have placed great scrutiny on the requirements for U.S. citizenship. The stipulation of literacy has long been one of these criteria. In Producing Good Citizens, Amy J. Wan examines the historic roots of this phenomenon, looking specifically to the period just before World War I, up until the Great Depression. During this time, the United States witnessed a similar anxiety over the influx of immigrants, economic uncertainty, and global political tensions.
Early on, educators bore the brunt of literacy training, while also being charged with producing the right kind of citizens by imparting civic responsibility and a moral code for the workplace and society. Literacy quickly became the credential to gain legal, economic, and cultural status. In her study, Wan defines three distinct pedagogical spaces for literacy training during the 1910s and 1920s: Americanization and citizenship programs sponsored by the federal government, union-sponsored programs, and first year university writing programs. Wan also demonstrates how each literacy program had its own motivation: the federal government desired productive citizens, unions needed educated members to fight for labor reform, and university educators looked to aid social mobility.
Citing numerous literacy theorists, Wan analyzes the correlation of reading and writing skills to larger currents within American society. She shows how early literacy training coincided with the demand for laborers during the rise of mass manufacturing, while also providing an avenue to economic opportunity for immigrants. This fostered a rhetorical link between citizenship, productivity, and patriotism. Wan supplements her analysis with an examination of citizen training books, labor newspapers, factory manuals, policy documents, public deliberations on citizenship and literacy, and other materials from the period to reveal the goal and rationale behind each program.
Wan relates the enduring bond of literacy and citizenship to current times, by demonstrating the use of literacy to mitigate economic inequality, and its lasting value to a productivity-based society. Today, as in the past, educators continue to serve as an integral part of the literacy training and citizen-making process.
In sheer numbers, no form of government control comes close to the police stop. Each year, twelve percent of drivers in the United States are stopped by the police, and the figure is almost double among racial minorities. Police stops are among the most recognizable and frequently criticized incidences of racial profiling, but, while numerous studies have shown that minorities are pulled over at higher rates, none have examined how police stops have come to be both encouraged and institutionalized.
Pulled Over deftly traces the strange history of the investigatory police stop, from its discredited beginning as “aggressive patrolling” to its current status as accepted institutional practice. Drawing on the richest study of police stops to date, the authors show that who is stopped and how they are treated convey powerful messages about citizenship and racial disparity in the United States. For African Americans, for instance, the experience of investigatory stops erodes the perceived legitimacy of police stops and of the police generally, leading to decreased trust in the police and less willingness to solicit police assistance or to self-censor in terms of clothing or where they drive. This holds true even when police are courteous and respectful throughout the encounters and follow seemingly colorblind institutional protocols. With a growing push in recent years to use local police in immigration efforts, Hispanics stand poised to share African Americans’ long experience of investigative stops.
In a country that celebrates democracy and racial equality, investigatory stops have a profound and deleterious effect on African American and other minority communities that merits serious reconsideration. Pulled Over offers practical recommendations on how reforms can protect the rights of citizens and still effectively combat crime.
In a society increasingly dominated by zero-tolerance thinking, Punishing Schools argues that our educational system has become both the subject of legislative punishment and an instrument for the punishment of children. William Lyons and Julie Drew analyze the connections between state sanctions against our schools (the diversion of funding to charter schools, imposition of unfunded mandates, and enforcement of dubious forms of teacher accountability) and the schools' own infliction of punitive measures on their students-a vicious cycle that creates fear and encourages the development of passive and dependent citizens.
"Public schools in the United States are no longer viewed as a public good. On the contrary, they are increasingly modeled after prisons, and students similarly have come to mirror the suspicions and fears attributed to prisoners. Punishing Schools is one of the most insightful, thoughtful, and liberating books I have read on what it means to understand, critically engage, and transform the present status and state of schools from objects of fear and disdain to institutions that value young people, teachers, and administrators as part of a broader vision of social justice, freedom, and equality. William Lyons and Julie Drew have done their homework and provide all the necessary elements for understanding and defending schools as public spheres that are foundational to a democracy. This book should be required reading for every student, teacher, parent, and concerned citizen in the United States. In the end, this book is not just about saving schools, it is also about saving democracy and offering young people a future that matters."
--Henry Giroux, McMaster University
"This is an important book . . . a distinctive contribution. The authors move back and forth convincingly between the micropolitics of school discipline and the 'politics writ large' of the liberal left and the utopian right. The result is an expansive, idealistic, and well-grounded book in the spirit of the very best of social control literature."
--Stuart Scheingold, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, University of Washington
William Lyons is Director of Center for Conflict Management and Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Akron.
Julie Drew is Associate Professor of English, University of Akron.