Jean Monnet Center at NYU School of Law

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Josephine Shaw

While nation-states and their boundaries are reified through assertions of border controls and appeals to nationhood, a new model of membership, anchored in the universalistic rights of personhood, transgresses the national order of things. The duality embedded in the principles of the global system is further reflected in the incongruence between the two elements of modern citizenship: identity and rights. In the postwar era, these two elements of citizenship are decoupled. Rights increasingly assume universality, legal uniformity, and abstractness, and are defined at the global level. Identities, in contrast, still express particularity, and are conceived of as being territorially bounded. As an identity, national citizenship - as it is promoted, reinvented, and reified by states and other societal actors - still prevails. But in terms of its translation into rights and privileges, it is no longer a significant construction. Thus the universalistic status of personhood and postnational elements of membership coexist with assertive national identities and intense ethnic struggles. [1]

[1] Soysal, Limits of Citizenship. Migrants and Postnational Membership in Europe, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 1994 at p159.

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